Royal Commission report day 47 page 1

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The Royal Commission evidence for 31/8/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 47)

F. C. Standish giving evidence


The Hon. F. LONGMORE , M.L.A., in the Chair;

J. Gibb , Esq. , M.L.A., G. C. Levey, Esq., C.M.G.,

G. W. Hall, Esq., M.L.A., E. J. Dixon , Esq. , J.P.

G. R. Fincham , Esq. , M.L.A.,

15960 By the Commission— There is a very important matter before the Commission at present—the disagreements that took place between the officers—that has come out most prominently. I think in your own evidence it was very prominent. Can you tell the Commission what led to those disagreements originally?— With the exception of Mr. O'Connor, I had no disagreement with any officer in the police force until I had a disagreement with Mr. Nicolson owing to his having been ordered by the Government to leave Benalla and Mr. Hare to take his place. I never had an angry word with Mr. Nicolson in my life, and had always a friendly feeling; but owing to what occurred afterwards, which I have spoken of, there were no longer terms of friendship.

15961 Do we understand that the officers were agreed in their different duties upon everything before that time?— It is possible that some officers who were not selected for duty which they thought they were fitted for may have been aggrieved, but those reports never reached my ears.

15962 That is an extraordinary statement after the evidence you gave?— The only evidence bearing on that point is the feud that ensued between Mr. Nicolson and myself, and also the disagreement between myself and Mr. O'Connor; but that was not an official, but entirely a private matter.

15963 The first we find of it in your evidence is in question 15, where you intimate you had confidence at one time in him, but you had not afterwards?— Certainly, I stick to that most firmly

15964 Now, if you look at question 57, “Mr. Berry instructed me to do all I could to reduce the expenditure” and so on?— That was after he returned from the embassy.

15965 At the bottom of the page—question 57— I see, “‘It is not a case of months or weeks, but of days and hours.’ That was his favorite utterance to me on every possible occasion; and, from information which I have received from time to time, I believe there is no doubt whatever that nearly the whole time Mr. Nicolson was in charge the outlaws were hanging about Greta and Glenrowan.” Did you know anything at all of the outlaws being there during the time Mr. Nicolson was in the district?— Most of this information reached me from certain private sources; but, subsequent to the destruction of the gang at Glenrowan, I had information, from time to time, that led me to believe that they were about Greta, and all the information I got I always conveyed to Mr. Nicolson.

15966 I put these questions because in your evidence you spoke so strongly against Mr. Nicolson with reference to this that I thought there must be something more than the passing view of it?— No; I tell you fairly that I was very dissatisfied at the long time during which nothing was done in that district, and I spoke to Mr. Nicolson about it, and wrote to him about it.

15967 In question 71 I see, “Towards the end of April 1880 I had some conversation with the then Chief Secretary, Mr. Ramsay , on the Kelly business. He asked me my opinion how things were going on, and I said I thought that nothing was being done now, and that beyond employing reliable spies I did not see what good Mr. Nicolson would ever effect.” Also, in question 76, you make a very strong reference to him again?— Yes, and every word of that is true.

15968 If you look again at question 96, you will see quite a different aspect put on it. “Do you believe ‘that the police officers have shown a want of generalship,’ all or any; and, if so, particularise the ones; if you do say they showed a want of generalship, do you believe they did or not?— None of those who were actively engaged in the pursuit of the Kellys did.” That seems contradictory after the statements you made with reference to Mr. Nicolson . You come on then to question 100, almost immediately after, “Do you think Mr. Nicolson showed want of generalship?— I do.” In what way do you think so?— As I have stated already, be seemed to do nothing, and did not seem to act on information he received. He seemed to do nothing the whole of the later period he was there.

15969 In your evidence yesterday you condemned him very severely for galloping about the first time without any object in view apparently?— He was very active and energetic, but he was always riding about with a lot of men when he was first up there, until the time of the Euroa bank robbery.

15970 Of course he left almost immediately after that?— The day after he came in; and he was evidently worried and jaded, and his eyesight bad; he was quite knocked up, and it was on that account I sent him down.

15971 Was there any result at all from that galloping about?— It seems not.....

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