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O Callaghan cleared of misconduct
O'Callaghan cleared of misconduct

UPDATE: 11.50AM Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan has been cleared by the Corruption and Crime Commission of misconduct in relation to the Perth Hills bushfire in February last year.

The CCC also cleared the Police Commissioner on matters surrounding the use of his corporate credit card.

Mr O’Callaghan responded to the CCC report by saying he was always confident he would be cleared and that it is now time to move on from inquiries into the Perth Hills bushfire.

No lives were lost in the fire but 71 homes were destroyed and 39 were damaged; 517 families were evacuated.

Former assistant commissioner Wayne Gregson, who is now the chief executive of the Fire and Emergency Services Authority, said he called the Police Commissioner at 2.13pm on February 6 after obtaining information about the fire in the Perth Hills and communicated that information to Mr O'Callaghan.

Mr O'Callaghan said he did not get information about the Roleystone fire during that conversation and was not made aware of the seriousness of the fire until he was called by Deputy Commissioner Chris Dawson at 4.33pm that day.

Mr O'Callaghan convened a State Emergency group meeting, which took place at 6.30pm.

"The report found that it would have been prudent and more open for each of Mr O’Callaghan and Mr Gregson to have revealed the telephone conversation when giving evidence to the Community Development and Justice Standing Committee of the WA Parliament, in the interests of transparency, but they were under no obligation to do so," the CCC's report stated.

Mr O'Callaghan was at the cricket on the day of the fires from 11am as a guest of the president of the WACA.

Mr O'Callaghan called Mr Gregson at 2.07.21pm and the call was missed. At 2.08.19pm, Mr Gregson tried to return the call. About 30 seconds later he called back and had a 56-second phone call.

When asked what was discussed, Mr Gregson told the Keelty Inquiry that Mr O'Callaghan said he could see smoke on the horizon.

"He asked me if it was anywhere near my place because I live in the Hills and he wanted to know if I knew what was going on," Mr Gregson said.

Mr Gregson had said that he was not home at the time but he would make inquiries. He then called Inspector Jeff Ellis, who was at the police operations centre, at 2.10.40pm and had a 141-second call.

They talked about a large fire around the Bentley area.

Insp. Ellis said: "We've just been told somebody lit a park up ... we're having trouble getting FESA at the moment, they're heavily deployed to Roleystone."

He went on to say: "I don't know if you're aware, are you aware of the Roleystone one?

"Significant fire. It has burnt out houses, we have significant risk to life, I've got a number of cars trying to evacuate people."

At 2.13.31pm, Mr Gregson called Mr O'Callaghan. The phone call lasted 60 seconds.

In Mr Gregson's evidence to the inquiry, he said that he had relayed the comments from Insp. Ellis regarding the seriousness of the fire to Mr O'Callaghan, but Mr Gregson did not take notes.

Mr O'Callaghan told the inquiry that he did not get information regarding the seriousness of the Roleystone fires from Mr Gregson's phone calls.

"That's a lot of information to cram into a 60-second phone call that he made back to me at 14:16," Mr O'Callaghan said.

Mr O'Callaghan said there was a lot of ambient wind noise in the background and he was having difficulty hearing because he was at a one-day International cricket match, where "there was a hell of a lot of noise going on".

"Now it's half possible that some of the information that Wayne Gregson was talking about on that day was indistinct, inaudible," Mr O'Callaghan said.

"I didn't get the information, but what I can say and what I've maintained is I did not get the information that's contained in this."

Mr O'Callaghan said many months had passed since the CCC started their inquiry into the matter and since then he had been involved in a number of key meetings with Mr Gregson regarding strategies involving both police and FESA.

The Commissioners future has been under public scrutiny since March when The West Australian revealed the two-pronged inquiry was under way.

Mr O'Callaghan, whose contract expires in August, has said little publicly about the CCC probe, but had said he was keen to have the issue resolved quickly.

He now awaits confirmation from the Government that he will be offered a new contract as police commissioner.

Mr O'Callaghan said it was up to the Premier to decide whether he would continue in the job.