10 May 2015

Sacked AFP officer: 'We lie to members of the community on a daily basis'

A sacked Australian Federal Police officer who said the AFP lied to members of the community on a daily basis has lost his legal battle to get his job back.

In 2013 the AFP sacked Elias Farah because it considered him a high threat to the law enforcement organisation and a significant risk to its operational security after the agency uncovered a string of code of conduct breaches.

Farah, who worked in the ACT and Sydney during a 10-year career, had already been suspended with and without pay since in October 2012. 

The Fair Work Commission found, on balance, the dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

Farah's misconduct included sending personal mail from his father in Australia to his uncle in Lebanon via an Australian government diplomatic bag.

Although Farah said he did this inadvertently because he did not know how the AFP's internal mail system worked, Fair Work Commissioner Helen Cargill said in her decision it displayed a "total lack of appreciation for the distinction between the personal and the professional".

Other code of conduct breaches upheld by the commission included agreeing to provide AFP information to acquaintances between July 2008 and November 2009.

Once, after a request from a family friend, Farah asked a NSW Police contact to find out the owner of a registration number involved in a traffic incident.

The NSW Police contact never gave Farah the details.

"Whether it was for the purpose of testing the driver for drugs and/or alcohol or because there was a complaint about the supposed tardiness of the NSW Police or indeed for some other unsavoury intention of his friend as suggested by the respondent, there was no legitimate reason for the applicant's inquiry," Commissioner Cargill said.   

Farah used the AFP computer system to look up the publicly-available Australian electoral roll for a female friend who wanted him to help her research the "subject of her dreams".

And on a third occasion he told a "friend of a friend" he would access a brief of evidence relating to a particular legal matter but made no attempt to do it.

When asked why he told this acquaintance he would source the information, the Fair Work Commission para-phrased Farah's response as ​'we lie to members of the community on a daily basis in the AFP'.

Farah said such requests were received by him from members of the community on an almost daily basis.

While he considered such requests part of his role in the community liaison team, Commissioner Cargill said Farah had shown "a troubling lack of judgement" which reflected poorly on the integrity and good reputation of the AFP.

In 2008 and 2009 he prepared and provided a series of references and testimonials for friends and acquaintances on AFP letterhead without authorisation.

Two were for court-related purposes while a third was to help someone obtain a security licence and was addressed to the Victorian Police licensing services division.

"Provision of personal references on official letterhead has real potential to affect the reputation of the AFP which is no doubt why prior authorisation is required," Commissioner Cargill said.

"The applicant's failure to even consider the possibility that there might be a guideline or policy on the subject of providing references is in itself a concern."

The commission did not agree with the AFP that Farah deliberately over-inflated information about human sources he had recruited during professional development assessments.

Instead the commission found it was a misunderstanding regarding terminology.

theage.com.au 7 May 2015

Once again the corruption of the police 'force' is being exposed, where realistically the slate needs to wiped clean!

Australia's police force is one of the country's largest organised crime networks.

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