TUESDAY, SEPT. 7
Present - Messrs Longmore (chairman), Fincham, Dixon , and Anderson .
Superintendent Nicolson , the last officer to be examined, said, with regard to the arrest of the bushranger Power, that although the work of providing the men devolved upon Mr Hare as superintendent of the depot, he (Mr Nicolson) was in command of the party. Because he was in ill health at the time, Captain Standish sent Mr Hare with him. They had two trips. On the first they met an informer, whom Mr Hare said was no good, but he (Mr Nicolson) discovered that the man was reliable. On the second trip Hare was to be sent alone, but he (Mr Nicolson) insisted upon going, and went. Met the informant he referred to again, and they were taken by him to Power's hut. He (Mr Nicolson) was the first to rush into the hut and to seize Power. Captain Standish once attempted to place Mr Winch over witness, but witness insisted on having his proper place, and succeeded. All his promotion had been by seniority.
Mr Hare was not a man to remain quiet if he did not get promotion to which he was entitled. Mr Hare had grossly misrepresented what occurred when he took over the Kelly business from witness. Mr Sadleir and Mr O'Connor were both present at the interview. Mr Hare arrived at the Benalla office a considerable time before 12 o clock. They sat down together, and at once entered upon the Kelly question. When they had conversed for about 20 minutes, Mr O'Connor left, saying he was tired of listening to the same story. Witness allowed Mr Hare the financial accounts of the agents, and gave him all the information he had about the outlaws. Had no doubt he mentioned the armour which the gang had, but would not swear positively to this. Told him Captain Standish had directed that Sherritt was not to be employed, but that he (witness) had employed him on his own responsibility, and that if he (Mr Hare) liked he could do the same. Mr Hare then asked what was the latest news about the gang, and witness told him what had been heard and done just previously. Their interview began before 12 o'clock , and they did not rise until about 1 o'clock , for when they reached the hotel they were 10 minutes late for lunch. The interview then must have lasted at least an hour.
He absolutely denied Mr Hare's assertion that he gave him no verbal information whatever, and that he only talked with him for about 10 minutes. The next charge made by Mr Hare was that one of his (Mr Nicolson's) agents refused to work for him. The fact was that witness brought the man referred to into Benalla to see Mr Hare, and that in Mr O'Connor's presence he persuaded him to work for that officer. The man's reason for refusing to work was that the police owed him £20, and would not pay him. He refused to work for witness at first for the same reason. As to the telegram sent to Mullane at Beechworth just as witness was leaving Benalla, it was simply a repetition of orders previously given. The words "No more supplies for Tommy" simply meant that witness no longer employed Sherritt on his own responsibility. Mr Hare said he did not make his complaints at the time for fear of raising ill-feeling, but what was there to fear from witness after he had left the district? In this he had distinctly failed to perform his duty. Mr Hare in going up to the Kelly district made his own terms. He went up with every advantage – untrammelled by any restrictions, whilst witness was sent up under circumstances intended to bring about his destruction.
Mr FINCHAM – That is a serious charge against your superior officer. Does the evidence justify you in making it?
Mr Nicolson – Captain Standish has said that he had no confidence in me, yet in the face of that he sent me up, withdrew the extra men from the district, and curtailed the supply of money for secret agents. I will, however, simply say that I was sent up under "different circumstances." I had no carte blanche given me of any kind.
Mr FINCHAM – I can scarcely understand that. Were you not free to undertake any course of procedure you thought proper, with- out reference to your superior officer?
Mr Nicolson – Oh! yes, certainly, but there was no such expression used to me as carte blanche. I had to incur many expenses on my own responsibility, and recover them afterwards. Mr Hare wrote a letter to the chief commissioner condemning me. That letter, without being ever referred to me, was published in almost every newspaper in the colony.
Mr FINCHAM – But did you not complain to the head of your department?
Mr Nicolson said he at once wrote to the chief commissioner, and repeated his request for a board of inquiry. The documentary evidence showed that Captain Standish was wrong when he said witness was previously aware that the Euroa bank, or at least a bank in the district, was to be stuck up. With regard to Mr Wyatt's information about the cutting of the wires, he thought that if the cutting of the wires was done in connexion with the Kellys, it was only a ruse to draw him away from more important information. No doubt it would have been wiser for Mr Sadleir or himself to remain at Benalla that night. He (Mr Nicolson) was responsible for this matter. He, however, submitted that little or no time was lost at Euroa. It was the height of summer, and the ground was so dry that they were unable to make any headway without black trackers.
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