Sometime in the next couple of months, probably in August, the Victorian Office of Police Integrity will release its report on the complaint that Police Commissioner Simon Overland made against his deputy, Sir Ken Jones. Media leaking and media conduct will be at the heart of that report.

After yesterday’s events there is probably more need for that report than ever before, because it will be about the extent, and workings, of the campaign against Simon Overland that has seen him leave his post as commissioner of Victoria Police.

Today it has been confirmed Tristan Weston, the police officer on Police Minister Peter Ryan’s staff, will not return to his post. This follows the OPI giving Deputy Commissioner Ken Lay, now acting chief commissioner, a dossier of information it had gathered about Weston that included material it had received through phone taps and other secretive measures.

So there is something there. Something serious.

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Questions in my mind include to what extent Weston, and others involved in the campaign against Overland, succeeded in poisoning the incoming government against him. And how did they deal with the media, as part of that campaign?

The OPI report is likely to be very uncomfortable reading for a number of people, not least the state government and the media. But will the media be able to fairly deal with a report that is likely to be very bolshie indeed about the role of confidential sources, leaks and relationships of convenience between news media and the factions in the police force?

They are at the heart of the tragedy gripping the Victoria Police, and bear a heavy responsibility. Yesterday’s Ombudsman’s report made it clear Overland was guilty of a serious error of judgement — not his first — in leaving the force open to perceptions of political manipulation. He was warned. He should have known better. It is a very serious matter.

But the Ombudsman’s report did not accuse him of what would amount to corruption — skewing the stats to gain grace and favour with the government of the day.

Without the media, Overland would probably have been able to hang on to his post, even in the face of the Ombudsman’s findings. Without whistleblowing (or leaks) the statistics affair would never have come to light.

As I said yesterday, one person’s brave whistleblower is another’s dubiously motivated criminal leaker. So it is that at the same time as the Ombudsman investigated claims made under the Whistleblower Act that statistics had been distorted, the Office of Police Integrity was investigating the same release of information as a case of potentially criminal leaking.

Nobody would claim that Overland has been without fault. But the undoubted truth is that a police commissioner who did more than any other officer to combat corruption in Victoria has lost his position, and those who have reported on the imbroglio bear a heavy responsibility.

One hopes Victoria’s newsrooms are full of serious debate about how that responsibility should be discharged. But even if such debates are underway (and we all know that I am probably vastly optimistic in hoping for them) the overwhelming bias of media organisations is always going to be to take the leak, if it is a good story, and run hard with it.

And that sets up a natural tension between the media organisation and those charged with investigating the leaks — in this case the OPI.

Thus we can expect the next target of the wrath of outlets such as 3AW, The Australian and The Age to be the OPI. And that agency is also far from without flaws. It is vulnerable, because it too has a blemished record.

Is the OPI wrong to be taking such a bolshie attitude to leaks? When Overland complained about Jones to the OPI, that body was obliged to conduct an investigation. The manner by which the investigation was conducted is, of course, within its power to decide.

It chose to bug phones. Was that overkill? A restriction on freedom of speech? As I said yesterday, that depends on whether you see the leaks as the effluvia of personality conflict, the product of brave whistleblowing, or as part of a serious and possibly corruptly motivated attempt to undermine an honest (if flawed) police commissioner, involving not only senior police but also political advisers.

Whistleblowing or dirty leaking? The kaleidoscope shifts depending on how you turn it.