An absolute storm of publicity has descended upon controversial Victorian Police Association secretary Paul Mullett over the weekend in the latest escalation of his war with Police Commissioner Christine Nixon.
On Saturday, the feud was subjected to a John Silvester feature in The Age, and Nixon also co-operated for a profile in the Herald Sun.
Channel Nine’s Sunday program then produced a very tough anti-Mullett cover story by Adam Shand and tonight he’s got to weather an hour long Four Corners from the legendary Liz Jackson.
Sunday went in particularly hard, perhaps reflecting the role of Frank McGuire, older brother and business partner of Nine CEO Eddie McGuire, as producer of the story.
Frank has a long record – Channel Ten, The 7.30 Report and even Four Corners – in taking on police corruption and brutality. Police fatally shot 12 Victorians in the two years up until April 1989 and Frank’s best mate at the time was the lawyer who acted for slain underworld figure Gary Abdallah.
Another factor in Sunday’s decision to go so hard against Mullett might be the fact that Nixon’s police media chief, Stephen Linnell, is the younger brother of Gary Linnell, the man Eddie installed last year as director of news and current affairs at Nine.
The main charge against Mullett is that he’s a bully and an old school cop who is soft on corruption because the Police Association leaps to the defence of virtually all coppers no matter what they’ve done.
The Herald Sun splashed this morning’s paper with this story claiming that dozens of bent cops are about to be sacked after charges are laid by the Office of Police Integrity.
The public doesn’t like the idea of bent coppers getting away with it and Mullett’s history in the notoriously thuggish Armed Robbery Squad is playing against him.
However, it’s amazing how the spin can vary. The Age pushed the line that Janet Mitchell, who led an internal push against Mullett at the Police Association, was some sort of pawn of Nixon’s yet Sunday claimed she’d had a relationship with Glenn Saunders, a former detective and association vice-president who was acquitted of drug trafficking charges.
Arguments over the funding of Saunders’ defence are at the heart of recent struggles so it will be interesting to see which side of the fence Liz Jackson comes down on tonight.