Cops lose case against Police Commissioner

QUEENSLAND'S highest court has determined four police officers, including a Mackay cop, who were stood down from duty were not entitled to ask the Police Commissioner for a detailed explanation.

The wording of legislation was at the crux of a legal dispute between the commissioner and police officers, including Mackay Constable Christopher Lawrence O'Keefe who was stood down and suspended but has since been reinstated.

Almost a year after Constable O'Keefe was told he was suspended without pay in July 2014, he asked the commissioner to reconsider his employment and was told the Police Service did not intend to revoke his suspension.

Const O'Keefe asked for a statement of reasons.

Three other police officers from the Gold Coast who had been stood down also asked the commissioner for a statement of reasons.

Bundaberg police officer Joseph Reginald Hildred was also originally part of the court case but was not part of the recent appeal. He has since resigned from the force.

Last year the Police Commissioner lodged court action to determine whether or not he was required by law to provide the detailed explanation to the officers who had been stood down.

The officers, through the Queensland Police Union, claimed they should be given a statement of reasons under the Judicial Review Act.

Within the act, it stated that a person who is entitled to apply for judicial review of a decision may request a statement from the decision maker.

In a Supreme Court decision handed down last year, the court found the Judicial Review Act did not apply to the commissioner's decisions to stand officers down.

This was upheld by the Queensland Court of Appeal on Friday.

The officers have also been ordered to pay the commissioner's costs.

Within the Judicial Review Act there is also a section that says an exemption applies for decisions made for investigations for corruption under the Crime and Corruption Act.

In the judgment, Queensland Court of Appeal Justice Robert Gotterson said an investigation of a police corruption complaint was made under the Crime and Corruption Act and that therefore the exemption applied.

Following this decision on Friday morning, Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said:

"Irrespective of today's decision, we still firmly believe that any employee who is stood down from work or has disciplinary action taken against them deserves to know why such action has been taken especially when it can take years for a matter to be resolved".

The Police Commissioner was also contacted for comment.


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