Royal Commission report day 50 page 2

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Story of the KellyGang - the Royal Commission Report

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The Royal Commission evidence for 7/9/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 50)

[[../../people/peN_P/nicolsonPAC.html|Ass Com Charles Hope Nicolson]] giving evidence

We were all equally running danger, and I thought it mean to make any invidious distinction, and allowed Mr Hare to sign the report, and I would have allowed Mr Montfort to sign it, had he been an officer. We returned to town, Mr Hare the invalid this time, and I stronger than ever. The Chief Secretary promised promotion. I have never attached or claimed credit for the capture of Power, as Mr Winch has stated. We obtained certain information, and, in acting upon it, overcoming some difficulty and hardship, merely did our duty. Probably there was as much credit due to yourself, Mr Chairman. Personally, I am as tired of this Power affair as every one else must be; but; as so much has been made out of this, I must now show who really captured him I must particularly call your attention to the fact that Captain Standish and Mr Hare have, in their statements, mentioned this last pursuit of Power, but they both omitted to refer to the previous visit, which gives point to the whole story, viz., that Captain Standish endeavored to keep me out of it after I had previously arranged the whole story, matter. I may state that I would not have had such suspicions as to Captain Standish's motives in this matter; but for his attempt to place Mr Winch over me in the list of officers in 1870. That is the meaning of Mr Winch being over my name in 1870 that has been spoken of. Upon my writing to him on the subject he replied that there was no record of my ever having been a superintendent, and it was only after sending him my appointment, and after some delay, that the matter was rectified. This shows that, even ten years ago, Captain Standish endeavored to promote some one over me. Mr Hare has said that I and Mr Montfort received promotion. Certainly Mr Montfort did, as he tells you, by a “fluke.” He has turned out a valuable officer; but it was unfair to all the sergeants and men in the North-Eastern District that, after their two years' hard work, Mr Hare's clerk should have been sent up, to reap the benefit which ought to have been theirs. The ostensible reason for sending him was that he knew the district; but, although that knowledge was useful to us, it was unnecessary, as we had a guide who led us almost to the spot. Chances of this kind should not be given at the expense of the local police, if any of them were deservedly efficient. It is appearances of favoritism like the above which cause dissatisfaction and disorganization among members of the force. Again, if Mr Hare had been directed to organize the Power pursuit over the heads of at least eleven senior officers, would there not be some record in the department of so important an event, and would not protest have been made by the senior officers, as was done by one of the juniors, viz., Mr Nicolas? Of course Mr Hare had much to do with the men, being Depot Officer, and therefore had to select and despatch the men, as in the Kelly business, and as many of the men selected were his own Bourke district men, it created considerable jealousy amongst the local police. As to the promotion which Mr Hare says I have received since Power's capture, I may state that I was removed from Kyneton because the police in Melbourne were thought to he in a state of considerable disorganization, and there had been difficulty in filling the post of Chief of Detectives on my giving it up and going to Kyneton. Captain Standish desired me to again undertake the duties of that position, together with those of the city. I did so, doing, thereby the duties of the two offices, either of which is enough work for any man, for an extra £100 per annum, thereby saving the country at least £200 per annum. I was then actuated, as I have been since, not by any feeling for myself, but from a desire to promote the good of the force. My predecessors in the city had never been in charge of detectives, while I had been for thirteen years, and that was the reason I was specially asked to undertake that arduous duty again. I became Inspecting Superintendent simply because that post came to me by right of seniority, and on taking it I undertook duties which had previously been performed by two officers, viz., Messrs Lyttleton and Bookey, thus again saving something to the Government. I may here state that Captain Standish endeavored to induce me to remain in the city and allow Mr Hare to be Inspecting Superintendent, pointing out that I would lose the extra £100 per annum and only gain £50 per annum by promotion. He so impressed me that I consulted an old and intimate friend, whose advice was “to remember that Johnny should always keep marching on.” In a short time after I heard that Mr Winch and Mr Hare had applied for an extra £100 per annum each. I then pointed out to Captain Standish that if they received this increase, one would get £25 more than I did and the other exactly what I received, besides allowances for horse, groom, &c., which I did not have. I therefore applied for an extra £100 per annum, and received £75 extra, making my salary £500 per annum. My title of Inspecting Superintendent was altered to that of Assistant Commissioner simply to compel Captain Standish to recognize my true position, which he had not done. It must not be forgotten that Mr Hare, a junior officer, had for fourteen years been Superintendent of the Depot, the prize post, and next in importance to that of City Officer, and which had been previously filled by military men, with one exception. Even Captain Standish has acknowledged to the Commission that I obtained my present position by seniority only, and therefore Mr Hare's assertions to the contrary fall to the ground. If Mr Hare had claims to promotion, why did Captain Standish refuse to promote him? Manifestly because he dare not do so. Was Mr Hare a man who would stand any refusal, if promotion was his right and he could prove it? The next incident to which I will refer is the interview between Mr Hare and myself, on the 2nd June 1880 , when I handed over charge of the pursuit to him. Mr Hare, I am sorry to say, has grossly misrepresented what occurred at that interview; and I will now detail my recollection of the facts of it, as they occurred. I had previously received notice that Mr Hare would relieve me on the 2nd June; and as I had prepared a statement showing the financial accounts of the agents employed by me in the pursuit of the Kellys, that account gave the names of all my agents, and that they had been paid to date. I arrived at the office at an early hour that morning. Mr Hare arrived at the office about half-past eleven, where Mr Sadleir, Mr O'Connor, and myself were waiting for him. The loose papers, such as telegrams, and so on, which I had myself read all over, were placed in heaps on the left. A few important papers I had filed, and put up, and docketed, and put in a drawer. There were only three or four packets of them. As the Commission is aware, I had previously written Mr. Hare in a kindly spirit on the subject of his taking charge of the pursuit. I have asked for that letter to be shown to the Commission, but Mr Hare does not seem inclined to do so. We all met cordially. I got up and shook hands cordially. Mr Sadleir was behind the door, and then he shook hands with Mr Sadleir, and then with Mr O'Connor. The room is a very small one, not much larger than this table. We had a little conversation before proceeding to business. A considerable time before twelve o'clock, Mr Hare and I sat down to our desk, like this, Mr Sadleir and Mr O'Connor remaining in the room. [ The witness explained the positions of the various persons in the room.] We sat down to business at once, and never moved from our seats until we left that room; there was no going out and in. After we had been sitting together for about twenty minutes to half an hour, Mr O'Connor went out, being tired of the long story which he had heard so often before, and smoked outside the door, and Mr Hare and I continued intently on our work till it was finished. I showed him the account I have mentioned. I also told him of Renwick, that I had brought Renwick down myself, the previous night, from the neighborhood of Sheep Station Creek, Crawford's Paddock, and that Renwick was to meet him in the evening. I told him also of “Diseased Stock,” handing him the papers, and, I believe, three letters —those were all I had. Mr Hare, in his examination, spoke about six—there were only three, and they were in a foolscap envelope, with the envelopes pinned to each letter. I also told him of those men, and mentioned, no doubt, the particulars about the armour, and about its being bullet-proof.....

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