On October 9 Crikey alerted readers to a recent decision from Canada’s highest court which recognises the right of individuals to sue the police and government where an investigation has been negligent and the individual has suffered loss as a result. We thought it might be a good idea if the former Gold Coast doctor Mohamed Haneef’s lawyers looked at the case, given the way the AFP and Queensland Police mishandled his case.

Well ditto Ben Cousins. Last week, the Western Australian Police managed to charge Cousins with a drug offence that doesn’t exist. And to make matters worse for Mr Cousins, the WA Police held a media conference for which the only purpose seems to have been to humiliate Mr Cousins and prejudice the community against him.

How else can one interpret the decision by the WA Police to reveal at this media conference that their officers had found painkillers, Viagra, sedatives and a $20 banknote belonging to a passenger in Cousin’s car with traces of ecstasy and cocaine. All of this was not only unnecessary to mention, but also clearly aimed at damaging Cousins’ reputation.

As a result of the WA Police witch hunt, Cousins has been sacked by a panicky employer, the West Coast Eagles, and had a humiliating week in which his reputation in the community and the media has been trashed mercilessly.

So why not throw the book at the WA Police – turn the tables on them Ben? Your financial loss and pain and suffering will be considerable and the WA Police should not be allowed to blithely explain it all away by saying sorry, we made a mistake.

Maybe the little known Australasian Police Professional Standards Council (APPSC), the executive of which consists of the Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty and his state and territory counterparts, needs to make sure its membership practises what it preaches. It has adopted a statement of Ethics which all police officers around Australia are meant to abide by, and they include this statement which seems particularly apt in Mr Cousins’ case:

We can be trusted. We are self disciplined. We do not abuse our powers and we are responsible in exercising them.

Yeh sure – just ask Ben Cousins!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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