Former independent MP John Hatton, the man who instigated the Wood Royal Commission into corruption in the NSW Police force, has cast doubt over the ability of future corruption inquiries to attract key witnesses, according to a distressing story in yesterday’s Sun-Herald. Hatton says the “abject failure” to guarantee the safety of whistleblowers is among the most serious issues facing modern law enforcement.

“His comments follow the publication of Sympathy For The Devil, an account by former crooked detective and Royal Commission ‘supergrass’ Trevor Haken of his decision in the mid-1990s to blow the lid on NSW police corruption,” The Sun-Herald reports. “Haken’s revelations were pivotal to the success of Mr Wood’s inquiry but he says he lives in fear of his life and regrets having ever ‘rolled over’.”

Haken was featured on ABC’s Australian Storya fortnight ago.

He worked under cover for nine months, obtaining irrefutable taped evidence against other high-ranking police officers and criminals.

“Since going on side with the royal commission, I don’t have a life,” he told the ABC. “I would have been far better off not going on side with the royal commission and holding the line with other members of the New South Wales police force. Even if I had gone to jail, it would probably have only been for a couple of years and not the life sentence that I’ve got now. I just think if you do the crime, do the time.”

Hatton says the role of protected witnesses is more important than ever but little, if anything, is done to ensure potential informants come forward with confidence.

“There has to be an obligation on senior law enforcement officers, enshrined in contracts, to protect the interests of whistleblowers where they are shown to have acted in good faith,” he told the Sun-Herald.

Peter Fray

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