Royal Commission report day 3 page 2

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The Royal Commission evidence for 25/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 3 )

Assistant Commissioner Nicholson giving evidence

680 And you never took the trouble to think of any other means from then till the time you left Benalla?- It was a very floating thought-just what one would write in a hurry. It was not want of trouble in the matter. Although I expressed the thought, it was not confirmed in my mind up to that time. I will be much briefer than I was yesterday. When I returned to town I went to duty at once. I never left the office. I took charge on the morning after my arrival when I was relieved.

681 You were relieved through sickness?- Through fatigue. I was not ill at all, but I was suffering from pain and the effects of fatigue, and I was never incapacitated from duty for one hour from that time till I went up to relieve Captain Standish. He visited Melbourne several times. I spoke to him on the subject of the Kelly gang; but he was always very reserved, and did not seem to think fit to enter into the subject with me at all. But on his very first visit to Melbourne I remember distinctly saying to him this, speaking about the mode of operations- "Do you remember that man Sherritt, whom we saw at Mrs. Byrne's that morning?" I said, "That is the sort of man to employ-that class of man."

682 Was that Sherritt the man whom you saw Captain Standish speaking to before the trooper on the morning of the Sebastopol attack?- Yes, that is the man-of the same class as the Kellys themselves.

683 You said that was the sort of man to employ to get these men?- Yes.

684 Did you speak ironically to him of this proceeding?- No, quite seriously; and on the first occasion I say most solemnly that I said that to him.

685 What date was that?- About-I cannot tell. Captain Standish can tell. It was the first day he came to Melbourne, and the first opportunity I had after I came down to Melbourne in charge. I was on friendly terms with Captain Standish at the time; I was never unfriendly until I was superseded.

686 That is the 12th of December?- No, the following year-in June.

687 At the interview with Mr. Ramsay?- Yes, that was the first time. On every occasion that I could I did everything to aid the police up there; and I wish to speak straightforwardly in this matter, and although I do not pretend that that private letter influenced me at all, still the same thought was running in my head; the consequence was that the first time I met Captain Standish I did say that to him. I merely submit that, if the Commission imagine it was through any desire to prevent assistance to Captain Standish that I did not speak to him before, it will be a misapprehension. I should like very much to know the date on which Sherritt was employed.

688 Was he employed by you?- Never by me at that time. He was employed then by Captain Standish and Mr. Hare-whether before that date or after I do not know.

689 Did you engage him at any time?- On my second visit I did. I left Melbourne on the 3rd of July 1879 for Benalla, to relieve Superintendent Hare, in consequence of instructions I had received from Captain Standish. I have something of importance to say on the office-that during the time I was in charge of the office, I carried on the business of the office most carefully.

690 In Melbourne?- Yes.

691 From December to July?- Yes; several documents which I considered, and which the chief clerk of the office suggested to me were matters for him to deal with, I sent to Captain Standish, and in every way I recognized his position of Chief Commissioner of Police. There were no documents kept back at all.

692 You were Assistant Commissioner at that time?- Yes, I was, and acting for him. When it was known decidedly that he was coming down to Melbourne, a few documents of the same kind were kept back for him instead of sending them up (they not being urgent), and nothing else. If you think fit to send into the office, to call upon the chief clerk in charge of the office, he will tell you the state that the office was in when I left it, and there are no grounds whatever for the statement of Captain Standish that I left the office in a muddle. I have always found, when I acted for him in the office, that it was the easiest billet I had had in the service.

693 What is the chief clerk's name?- Mr. Moors. ...

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