The Argus at KellyGang 22/2/1882 (4)
In everything that I did I was swayed by what I believed to be the cause of truth and justice. I did not seek to please specially any particular member of the commission, or serve any particular officer. I acted throughout without fear favour, or affection, and with perfect loyalty to the commission. One point more and I have done. During the inquiry only one disagreeable incident occurred so far as I was concerned. That was when one commissioner, clearly under a misapprehension, stated that I had given a paragraph to "The Argus" calculated to shake the credibility of Jack Sherritt's evidence; that I had exhibited a private document to Mr Sadlier in reference to the conviction of William Sherritt for perjury, and had concocted evidence with Mr Nicolson and Mr Sadlier against Mr Hare. Time and circumstances might have since proved those allegations groundless. The Argus that has so pitilessly attacked me knows how its reporter obtained the paragraph. Mr Sadlier, who I have reason to believe regards me with no friendly feeling, can state whether I ever allowed him to see the document in question, or concocted evidence with him in conjunction with Mr Nicolson, as stated throughout this very unpleasant business.
I have studiously sought to render my motives and action above suspicion. My anxiety was to discharge the duties of secretary creditably and to the satisfaction of all concerned. In the conflict of interests that has unfortunately arisen, I am afraid it was impossible to please everyone, and it is of course those who feel the shoe pinch that complain. I have not been an eager accuser, as described. I acted honourably and faithfully. I looked for no favour; I neither stooped nor truckled to any man. For 12 months, although daily associated with the chairman, I never approached him, nor has he addressed me in other than terms of formality; I assumed no individual responsibility I carried out instructions as they were given to the best of my ability. I never summoned a witness on my own motion except one, namely, the Very Rev. Dean Gibney, and that was unavoidable. That I controlled the calling of witnesses, selecting some, and sending others away, is not true, us every commissioner knows. That the report is mine, and that I influenced the minds of the commissioners, are statements too absurd to need answering. The secretary of a commission composed of public men and members of Parliament, charged with so important an inquiry, could hope for a very brief and inglorious official existence indeed if he attempted either to presume on the one hand, or was guilty of unfairness and partisanship on the other.
The following reference to the evidence re indiscriminate firing has been forwarded to us by Mr Williams :- O'Connor, 1,143, 47, et seq ; Sergeant Whelan, 5,998-99, 6,001 ; Reardon, page 278, Q7,646-57,7,660-65, et seq., 7,693 ;Barry, 7,390, 7,486 ; Dwyer 9,420 22-27, 9,415, 9.443 ; Gascoigne, 9,679 ; M'Whirter, 10,343 ; Reardon, 10,590-96, 10,608, 10,624; Kirkham, 6,692 ; Dowling, 4,785-96 ;Steele, 9,014.
THE POLICE COMMISSION
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARGUS
Sir, – While agreeing with "Fairplay's" letter in your issue of the 17th inst. that the Government should make known their decision and do justice to Mr Hare, I must show that your correspondent's statements are very inaccurate. In paragraph 1 he states that Mr Hare and two officers were sent after Power, the bushranger, who had defied all the police in the colony for 18 months, and they were successful in 16 days only. Now, there were two visits to Benalla, one in April, the last in May, 1870, and during the latter visit the arrest was effected upon direct information, the informer leading the officers to within 200 yards of the spot (See page 624, question 16,861, also page 519, question 14,326.) Power was asleep, and even if awake was one man against three. Therefore, there is no merit in this arrest, and "Fairplay’s” unjust slur against all the police in the colony is a misrepresentation. The evidence shows that even the "direct information" was not obtained by Mr Hare. "Fairplay" next asserts that “the two officers who accompanied Mr Hare received promotion, but Mr Hare did not."
Mr Montfort certainly did at the request of Messrs Nicolson and Hare, but even Captain Standish, who showed such amimus to Mr Nicolson and desire to prove Mr Hare right in all his statements, fails to support him on this point – page 592, question 16,277 (by Mr Nicolson) – "Was I promoted to the rank of superintending officer for that (the capture of Power) or through being senior officer? Ans – "I believe you were senior officer." Ques. 16,278 (by the commission) “Which was it? Was it in consequence of the capture of Power or because he was en- titled to it by seniority?" And -" I fancy it was on account of his seniority."
The title of inspecting superintendent was altered to assistant commissioner, as better describing the duties of that office, but was not promotion.
Paragraph 2 is also inaccurate. He writes that "Nicolson remained in the Kelly country two or three months," whereas he was there only six weeks and four days, viz - from 28th October to 13th December. Mr Hare may deserve great credit for Glenrowan, but while the police force is subject to discipline, what is to be said of an officer who upon being ordered for dangerous duty protests in the strongest manner against being sent back, and points out four senior officers upon whom the responsibility should be thrown, and who is only induced to undertake this duty upon promise of substantial reward' (See page 91, question 1,531) If Superintendent Hare is not amenable to discipline, why should constables also not be exempt? Dare they or any officer in the force protest against undertaking dangerous duty unless under promise of special reward?
Mr Ramsay's minute seems an extraordinary one, and shows that Ministers of the Crown are lamentably ignorant of the qualifications of officers serving under them. I supplement "Fairplay's" extract by some of the evidence which precedes it. Mr Ramsay says he instructed Mr Hare to proceed to Benalla, " that he was to be entirely untrammeled by any regulation of any kind, &c. He was to have the entire responsibility, the entire support of the Government, and in regard to money he was to feel that he was unfettered, that the utmost confidence was placed in his judgment, that if money could be profitably employed in the capture of these men he was to feel himself entirely uncontrolled (see page 509. ) In going over the evidence I find that no other officer engaged in this duty had these inducements offered them, although they were well known to be '"good men and true " The selecting of Mr Hare caused no jealousy, although had Mr Ramsay's promises been known to others besides himself and Mr Hare, it no doubt would have caused ill-feeling.
In Mr Hare's evidence he shows that he captured an armed burglar, assisted at the arrest of Power, and was away from Glenrowan before any of the outlaws were captured , therefore, " Fairplay's" assertion of "his having been again successful in capturing bushrangers" is valueless. I had nearly forgotten to draw attention to the fact that Mr Hare has also benefited by seniority, he being now fourth on the list of superintendents. In 1870 he was a junior officer; his pay was also increased for over a year by an additional £100, he had also leave to visit Europe for twelve months on full pay.
The most of "Fairplay's" statements have been disproved before the commission, but to prevent misunderstanding it is well that the public should have the true version. – I am,
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