Michael Pascoe writes:

Something quite extraordinary is happening
in the pages of the SMH this week – reporter Stephen Gibbs is chipping away
daily at the credibility of Tim Priest, the high-profile “whistleblower” cop,
close ally of Alan Jones and a major player in Peter Ryan’s demise as Police
Commissioner.

It began relatively mildly on Monday
with the disclosure that Priest had been giving speeches about an incident that
did not occur. The embellishments began to come undone after Quadrantpublished
the speech, The Rise of Middle Eastern Crime in Australia. There was nothing in police records to corroborate it.

Yesterday,
there was an accusation that Priest falsely claimed to be a former SAS member. And today:

Tim Priest was never a detective sergeant, and from the
start of his public campaign to clean-up drug crime at Cabramatta overstated
the length of his police service.

The so-called whistleblower has identified himself as a
detective sergeant continuously since first giving evidence before the
parliamentary inquiry into policing at Cabramatta five years ago.

We’re not in Norma Khouri territory yet,
but three such stories in a row spell trouble for Priest while he’s seeking
damages of more than $2.5 million from the State of NSW for
psychiatric injury, negligence and breach of contract. The SMH reports Priest
as saying he is seeking legal opinion about the allegations.

Priest tends to divide NSW chattering class
opinion pretty much down the party lines of his backers and their enemies – Alan
Jones v Mike Carlton. Along the way he has made some worthwhile points about
some of the many problems facing NSW policing, but his associates are his
associates, his spin is his spin and once anyone’s credibility is so openly
questioned, it’s hard to win fans.

What is also interesting though is who is
leaking the allegations to the SMH. You can get the sense of official fingerprints on the stories from yesterday’s effort:

Twice, the police force was moved
to write to central army records asking if Priest was then, or ever had been,
in the Special Air Service. Both times the answer was no…

“According to records held
by this office the subject of your inquiry appears to be identical with
Ex223395 Corporal Michael Patrick Priest who has since been discharged from the
Australian Army,” it said. “The former soldier was not a member of
the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR).”

Priest became angry when the Herald
asked about the content of those documents on Sunday. He said the SAS
allegation “never, ever, ever, ever came from the court case,
whatsoever”.

“I’d be very careful about
that,” he said. “Something’s going to happen in relation to that in
the next couple of months. I’d steer right clear of it. Someone’s going to come
unstuck.”

Peter Fray

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