Royal Commission report day 1 page 16

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The Royal Commission evidence for 23/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 1 ) Captain Standish giving evidence

150 Did you approve of the burning of Mrs. Jones's hotel, while the outlaws were there?- I was not there.

151 From what you have since, do you approve of it?- There is one matter to be considered, whether the outlaws were burnt alive.

152 I mean, taking the evidence as we have it, from what we suppose, whether they were dead or alive, would that action meet with your approval?- If I had been in charge of the operations, I should not have had the house burnt down.

153 Who was in charge at that time?- Mr. Sadleir.

154 I suppose, after all, there is a certain amount of latitude allowed to men of the force who are in danger?- Yes.

155 What was the nature of instructions communicated to the police officers in the North-Eastern District regarding their actions, should they receive any intelligence of the outlaws. Were there any special instructions?- Every member of the police force was, if he heard any information, to communicate at once with the officer in charge of the district; but if there were good grounds for believing they were in a certain place, and he could get a few men to go with him, he could go at once; but that in urgent cases.

156 They had liberty to take action at once?- Yes, if they had a sufficient body of men to warrant their going out, but if one man heard the outlaws were a few miles off, of course he could not go himself.

157 I ask the question, because it was stated they were limited by certain regulations; and complaints have been made about red-tapeism, that they had good information, but that they could not act upon it without first communicating with the Police Department, and great delay, in consequence, ensued?- If the officer at Mansfield had information, it was his duty to telegraph it at once to the head of the district, and if he had sufficient men, to proceed at once. If he has only one one man he could not go out himself.

158 What number would you consider it prudent for any man to start with?- Four men.

159 Then any petty officer in charge of any three men would be justified, as soon as he had telegraphed the news to his superior officer, in starting at once in pursuit?- Yes.

160 Was there any instance of such a thing, where men receiving such information, did not proceed?- I cannot bear in mind any ease of that kind.

161 No similar case occurring at Mansfield?- No; because you know there were no end of reports and rumours flying about, a great many false reports circulated, and if we had sent the police after every shadowy report of that kind, we should have worn the whole of them out to no purpose.

162 I mean from the officer in charge?- If the officer in charge, or the senior sub officer in charge saw his way to catch the outlaws, it was his duty to do so.

163 Mr. Hare in his official report says, "I also told them that at each of these towns I would have a full party of men stationed, so that, it any information was received about the Kellys, they would be in a position to go in pursuit at once; and all l wished them to do was to communicate by telegraph with me previous to their starting off, so that I might know in which direction they had gone." The question is this, if Mr. Hare gave that instruction in June when he resumed the command, is it within your knowledge that that was not the rule prior to his assuming command. It has been stated in the public press and elsewhere that there was a regulation in force, presumably through you as the permanent and responsible head of the department that, if the Kellys were heard of by the police, under no circumstances were they to go after them unless they had communicated with the head of the department; and the question I ask is, as Mr Hare in his official report gives certain instructions, therefore it looks like a different instruction from those previously acted on, was it or not?- I do not know what regulations Mr. Nicolson may have issued when in charge of the Kelly operations; I can say I never issued any. . .

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