Royal Commission report day 48 page 4

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The Royal Commission evidence for 1/9/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 48)

'Sup Francis Augustus Hare giving evidence'

16318 Referring to your own report of the 2nd July, will you look at paragraph 3:— “I accordingly, on the 2nd June, wents up there. I arrived at Benalla about 11 o'clock that day. I saw Messrs. Nicolson , Sadleir, and O'Connor in the office. After some conversation on general subjects, Mr. Nicolson produced a letter he had received from you, directing him to give me all the information he had obtained concerning the Kelly gang daring his stay at Benalla. He showed me the state of his financial account with one of his agents, and said there was nothing owing to any of the others. He opened a drawer and showed me a number of papers and the correspondence which kind taken place daring his stay at Benalla, and said, ‘You can get all the information from these papers.’ He gave me no verbal information whatever, but said, ‘ Mr. Sadleir can tell you all I know concerning the movements of the outlaws.’ He left the office, and I never spoke to him again, and he went to Melbourne by the evening train. The principal agent employed by Mr. Nicolson I had appointed to meet me that evening. He was one who was considered the best man they had. After talking with him a few minutes, he positively refused to work for me or have anything to do with me, although he had accompanied the police from Beechworth the previous day for the purpose of having an interview with me. That evening I telegraphed to Detective Ward to come down to Benalla the next morning by train. He did so, and, after some conversation, he informed me that on the previous evening the senior constable in charge of Beechworth had received a telegram from Mr. Nicolson to pay off all the agents he had employed. I at once endeavored to obtain a copy of this telegram in the office, but there was no record kept of it, nor did the clerks know anything about it, so I presume it must have been sent from the railway telegraph office, as Mr. Sadleir knew nothing whatever about it.” The effect of all that is to make a very grave charge against Mr. Nicolson— that he not only gave you no assistance whatever in the way of giving you any information in his possession, but that he prevented you from, getting that information from others, and that he both actively and passively prevented you from getting information that was in his hands. After hearing Mr. Nicolson's evidence and others, do you wish to withdraw that?— No, not in the slightest.

I6319 Then, in fact, you charge Mr. Nicolson with not giving you all the information in his possession when you took charge at Benalla?— I charge him with not carrying out Captain Standish's instructions, and not giving me all the information in his possession at the time.

16320 Do you feel at liberty to say who that principal agent is?— “Remmick.” You see in my statement I merely gave the fact about him that he came down from Beechworth for the purpose of giving information, that night I met him, and that he got into the train and went away.

16321 Then if Mr. Nicolson states that he gave all the information in his power, he is not stating the facts?— Exactly. I have stated fully in regard to that already. Before I go into the fact of my being sent up by Mr. Ramsay, I wish to explain to the Commission, and I hope it may get the same publicity as the statement made by Captain Standish yesterday with reference to my being favored with regard to the police force. I just take that one case of Power's solely. Mr. Nicolson and myself were directed to go after Power, and we took Mr. Montfort with us. Power was captured, and the Government thanked us in Parliament and wrote us complimentary letters, and said that we should be promoted. Mr. Montfort was promoted at once from a sergeant to a sub-inspector, and now is placed in charge of the North-Eastern district in the same position as a Superintendent of Police. Mr. Nicolson was at that time, as he has told you, in charge at Kyneton he was receiving a salary of £375 a year; he was moved to Melbourne immediately after the Power business, and he was placed, as well as being in charge of the city, in charge of the detectives, for which he received £100 a year. His predecessor did not receive that sum, and his successor did not receive that amount. Mr. Nicolson subsequently was promoted to Inspecting-Superintendent. At the time that he obtained the appointment his predecessor was receiving £425 a year; he ( Mr. Nicolson ) received an increase of £76 a year, and has received £500 a year since. Subsequently he was made the Assistant-Commissioner of Police. Now I take my position. I was the officer in charge of the depot at the time of the Power capture. I was receiving £350 a year as superintendent of the depot. About three or four years after the Power capture the two classes of' superintendents were amalgamated, and I received an extra £25, which brought my salary—mine and that of three or four superintendents—to £375. I am receiving that salary at the present day. It has been said that I was promoted over the heads of others; where is the promotion? The two officers with me both received promotion, and I am in the same position of superintendent as I was then. Now, with regard to the Kelly business, where also I was supposed to be put over the heads of other officers and promoted. Sergeant Kennedy was shot on a certain date; immediately the news came to Melbourne Captain Standish sent Mr Nicolson up to the district, being the inspecting-superintendent, whose place it was to be there. He remained there till the Euroa bank robbery. Captain Standish then went up himself. I was in his office at twelve o'clock . I received a telegram after he left that I was to report myself that evening at Euroa. I immediately got my horses and things ready, and started off at once. I stayed up there acting under Captain Standish for seven months. I did, as you have been told over and over again, the hard work of searching throughout the whole time I was up there, camping out in the mountains all the time. I stayed there till I was so completely knocked up that I had to be carried on a trap to the nearest station to where I was. I asked Captain Standish to let me come to town; he acceded to my request. I came down and went to work again in my own district, after having gone through hardships which nobody here, and very few people in the country could realize what I went through—However that is past. I came down to town and Mr. Nicolson was sent up; he was up there for eleven months. I was sent for then by Mr. Ramsay , not Captain Standish , and ordered, against my wish, to go and take charge of this business. I protested against doing so, and I go up there; the matter is brought to a termination, and at the end of that time I am wounded and injured for life; I suffer a considerable amount of pain and agony. Directly I am well enough I go back to my duty, and the Commission is appointed. I never asked for the Commission. I never say a word about anything, and perform my duty until this Commission is appointed. I am brought here and suspended from my duty for five months, and I am now in the same position as I was before Power's case. Where is the promotion— where is the favoritism? I think on the contrary. I was looking over a file of papers in my office this morning. In the year 1871 a vacancy occurred amongst the first-class superintendents (which was the paltry sum of £25 a year). I wrote and asked Captain Standish to give me that vacancy. He declined— he said, “No; why should you be put over the heads of all the other officers senior to you? You must wait your turn to be promoted.” I have the file here. He writes there and says he will not promote me, and recommends the Government not to do it. I wrote a second time, and asked when the vacancy occurred. In the first instance I was referred to Sir James McCulloch , and he agreed with Captain Standish . The second time a vacancy occurred I applied again to Captain Standish , and he referred it to Mr Berry , and it was again refused; and then I am told here that Captain Standish has favored me. He has made me do all the hard work; he has sent me, not only in these cases, but in many other cases, to do work I ought not to have been called upon to do. I was sent up to the Murray on duty there, though there was a superintendent in the district, and it was a very responsible post there. After it is all over everybody is very wise, and say it was a simple thing to do. It was not Captain Standish sent me there, it was Colonel Mair . I got the thanks of Sir James McCulloch , and the Commissioner of Customs then, but that is all. There was another case in 1855; the Governor recommended me for my services and said I would be promoted. Here is a letter I will put in evidence which shows you I got the promotion, and it is mentioned at the same time that there is no pay attached to it. The letter has been given in evidence here (vide question 1601 above). Again, on the 14th of August there is this letter (also at question 1601). There is also a letter the Governor wrote to me at the same time-[reading the same]. I will now go back again to the declaration by Mr. Ramsay . I may state to the Commission that one reason I did not at once accept the position offered to me, to take charge of the Kelly business, when spoken to by Captain Standish and Mr. Ramsay, on my being sent for in June 1880, was because my health had suffered to such an extent the previous seven months in the North-Eastern district that I thought it was unfair to myself to have to undertake the same exposure again, which appeared to me as certain death. However, when Mr Ramsay put the matter in the way he did, I kind no alternative but to accept the position, and do what I could to bring the matter to a termination. Another thing was, I knew I would bring down the displeasure of the senior officers on me, which I have done, and the Commission have seen the animus shown towards me during this enquiry. I never had a quarrel with any officer in the force, and have always been on good terms with them all. I have been ready and anxious to do my duty to the best of my ability, and I will continue to do so as long as I am in the force. I wish to draw your attention to the fact that I have received a very severe wound in the execution of my duty, from which I shall suffer pain for the rest of my life. It is surely very unfair that I should receive nothing but promises, and then be told I had been promoted under different Governments, and when a vacancy does occur it is said I was not the senior officer. In other cases, such as Weiberg's, two young constables were sent after him—one a detective, and the other an ordinary mounted constable. Weiberg was arrested by them. A few days afterwards Sir Bryan O'Loghlen , then Chief Secretary, promoted both of them. They were only of three years' standing, and they were put over men of twenty years' standing in the force. If the rule is carried out in lower grades I do not see why it should not be in the upper grades. I always complained to Captain Standish that he should select a senior officer to do the work, and told him that whilst I had been camping in the mountains with a great responsibility on my shoulders my seniors were lying at home comfortably in their beds; and now they come forward and say I was favored by being sent on this duty. That is all I have to say.....

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