O Callaghan attacks Buswell committee
Troy Buswell's car is towed away from his Subiaco home.

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan has launched an extraordinary attack on a parliamentary inquiry into the Buswell affair, accusing it of being biased and manipulating evidence to fit a “pre-determined outcome”.

The Opposition-instigated inquiry examined matters including how police investigated the incident in which Mr Buswell crashed his ministerial car while returning home from a wedding.

"My concern with the whole report is that the Committee had a pre-determined position in mind, a pre-determined outcome and they have gone and manipulated the facts that we've provided them to fit their pre-determined outcome," Mr O'Callaghan said today.

He had previously rejected the committee's findings.

Premier Colin Barnett called on Margaret Quirk to resign as chair of the parliamentary committee that handed down the report.

The report was also heavily criticised by the State Solicitors Office in a response tabled in Parliament this morning by Police Minister Liza Harvey, who also said she did not support the report’s findings and comments.

The response, penned by State Solicitor Paul Evans and State Counsel George Tannin SC, described the report as “erroneous and misleading” revealing of “an ignorance of parliamentary history and the role of Parliament in securing the rule of law”.

Mr Barnett said: “It is my view, on the basis of this report and the responses from the Police Commissioner and State Solicitor, that Margaret Quirk should resign as chairman of this committee effective immediately.”

But Opposition Leader Mark McGowan backed Ms Quirk, refused to criticise the report and repeated the allegation of a cover up.

“The Government is shooting the messenger here, it’s not the committee that got drunk at the wedding and crashed a government vehicle,” he said.

“The Police Commissioner is entitled to have his view and defend his position but at the end of the day it is not the committee that has committed the wrong here.”

Mr Buswell was fined $3100 and disqualified from driving for one year after he admitted to 11 traffic offences, but did not face drink-driving charges because he was not breathalysed on the night.

The traffic offence charges, including failing to stop after an accident, were laid only after the incident was exposed in the media.

The committee concluded that there was a systemic failure at a number of levels on the evening.

"There was an inadequate police response; Dignitary Protection were unaware of the then state Treasurer's car registration or home address; police subsequently let any investigation lapse and left it to the media to join the dots," the committee found.

The committee said police did not make the connection between the report of erratic driving and the smashed cars in nearby streets.

Today, Mr O'Callaghan said: "I think most committees take the view that they're there to find out what the truth is and be objective about it.

"I think this committee has not been objective.

"They haven't taken the evidence and used the evidence in the way that it should have been used. They've simply used it to construct an outcome they wanted which is why I think it was biased."

He said there were several assumptions made in the committee's report that were incorrect and made without any evidence.

He said the fact the five committee members were split on their findings meant it lacked credibility in his mind.

He said his overarching view was that they were playing politics.

Mistakes included an allegation that the Government colluded with police regarding the approach to an interview with Ms Turnseck, he said.

"One of the statements that was made in there is that central Government had contacted one of the Deputy Commissioners and that contact was inappropriate and may have affected the way police approached a particular statement, the one involving (Mr Buswell's then chief of staff Rachael) Ms Turnseck.

In fact when you look at the sequence of events, Ms Turnseck was interviewed and a statement taken before that phone call was made, so they even have the sequence of events wrong."

The West Australian

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