Yesterday, Nick McKenzie and Dan Oakes reported in The Age:

Victoria Police force command ignored warnings from its own corruption investigators four years ago to segregate an investigation into a double murder because of concerns it could be undermined by serving officers.

Former police officer Paul Dale is suspected of links to the killing of corruption informer Terence Hodson and his wife, Christine, in their home in 2004.

The Age can reveal that the Ethical Standards Department officers warned their superiors shortly after the murders that Dale had close friends who had worked or were working in the homicide squad.

Among the officers Mr Dale was known to be close to was former homicide squad detective Denis Linehan, who has been accused this week in Office of Police Integrity hearings of undermining the investigation on behalf of Mr Dale.

Mr Dale and Sergeant Linehan both denied during the second day of the hearings yesterday that they had conspired to derail the murder investigation.

Der, says The Australian today . The Age — the ” Pravda on the Yarra” — was only four years late, bitches  The Oz which is claiming first dibs on the story, noting Padraic Murphy and Michael Davis wrote it on 22 May, 2004.

Nick McKenzie tells Crikey today that The Age ‘s story introduced vital new elements — and got the facts straight. He writes:

The Oz has a crack at myself and The Age for writing news that is four years old today (p.13, or click here to see the story online).

What rubbish. The story The Age ran on Wednesday had more detail than The Oz ‘s story and it also did not make the errors The Australian ‘s 2004 story made.

Unlike The Oz , The Age correctly named the anti-corruption investigators from the Ethical Standards Department who raised the issue of safeguarding the Hodson murder investigation. The Age also raised the fact that one of the individuals of concern to ESD at the time was Detective Linehan, who was called before the police integrity hearings this week.

None of this was in The Oz . Back in 2004, the paper incorrectly reported that it was Taskforce Ceja who tried to have the investigation given to a special team. That is wrong. Ceja did not investigate the Hodson burglary and the ESD officers who raised the issue were not in Ceja. The Oz also reported that a certain Ceja investigator got a phone call to stay away from the Hodson murder scene. That detail reported by The Oz is also wrong.

Reporting rumour is easy. Getting it right is harder. If I was The Oz editor, I would be asking my own reporters why they didn’t do a clipping search this week and make reference to, and further research, a story they claim to own when the OPI hearing began (because the story is clearly very pertinent). I guess they are too busy slagging off The Age . As for The Oz ‘s claim to lead the state’s police corruption coverage, a clipping search over the last two years will very quickly show otherwise.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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