The Argus at KellyGang 19/10/1881 (6)

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Royal Commission second report comment

4. There seems every reason to believe that Superintendent Hare was throughout in direct collusion with Captain Standish in the petty and dishonourable persecution to which Mr Nicolson was subjected for many years while endeavouring honestly to discharge his duties to the best of his ability. Superintendent Hare admits that the late chief commissioner consulted him upon everything; one of the witnesses declared that Superintendent Hare was regarded as the actual head of the force. Under such circumstances, how can Superintendent Hare be exonerated from all responsibility for the strained relations that existed amongst the officers?

5. Captain Standish characterised Mr Nicolson's reports as “twaddle"; Superintendent Hare described them as "infernal bosh."  

This agreement of opinion is significant when upon examination, those reports are found to deserve a very different appellation. Had Captain Standish acted properly upon one of those written in 1877 concerning the state of the North-Eastern district, the Kelly outbreak would probably have been prevented.

6. Superintendent Hare exhibited a spirit of insubordination to a superior officer in questioning Mr Nicolson's dictum regarding Constable Redding, and in the assistant commissioner's presence coinciding with Captain Standish when the latter was in- formed that Constable Gorman was not a suitable man for a particular station. Further, as showing Superintendent Hare's regard for the rules of the service, and the respect due to a superior officer, it may be added that when in the course of the inquiry Mr Nicolson forwarded, as a matter of courtesy, a communication to Mr Hare, the reply received, after acknowledging the receipt of the document, was as follows :-

"I would suggest to Mr Nicolson the advisability of his devoting his attention to answering the serious charges preferred by the witnesses examined before the commission against himself, instead of attempting to find fault with my conduct. - FRANCIS HARE, Supt.,

26/9/81 .

7. In the personal feuds and jealousies which have marked the relations of the police officers, Superintendent Hare appears to have adroitly sheltered himself behind the late chief commissioner. Further, it is notorious that many of the men have taken sides, and that a spirit of dissension and rivalry exists in the ranks of the police.

8. Superintendent Hare's position as officer of the depot gave him many advantages over his brother officers, which he was not slow to utilise.

9. Your commissioners cannot too strongly deprecate the action taken by Superintendent Hare to override the decision of the political head of the department in order to retain his position as officer of the depot and avoid being sent to Beechworth. With very questionable taste, and contrary to the regulations of the service, he applied personally to Sir George Bowen, the Governor of the colony, whom he met at a coursing meeting, to intercede for him and have the order for his removal cancelled. While Mr Hare acknowledges to have thus enlisted the highest political influence on his own behalf, his charge against Mr Nicolson of having employed similar means to obtain promotion utterly broke down, as the assistant-commissioner appears to have depended solely for advancement upon his rights of seniority.

10. Superintendent Hare's conduct during the Kelly pursuit was marked by anything but a generous or kindly feeling towards Mr Nicolson. In paragraph 2 of the protest, Mr Dixon states that after the Wombat murders Mr Hare was zealously engaged at the depot in selecting the best men and horses to send to the North-Eastern district. As a matter of fact, the reinforcements came to hand slowly, and the district, at the time of the Euroa bank robbery, was unprepared to resist, at all points, the threatened raid, owing to the inadequacy of the police force placed at Mr Nicolson's disposal.  

11. As regards warning the banks at Seymour, Avenel, and Nagambie, Superintendent Hare simply obeyed the instructions given to him two days before Mr Nicolson was apprised of the existence of the prisoner William's communication, in which the information was conveyed regarding the intention of the outlaws to attack the bank at Seymour . Had there been proper concert between the officers at this period, the Euroa bank robbery might have been averted. Captain Standish, while he consulted Mr Hare, neglected to inform Mr Nicolson what arrangements had been made to protect Seymour , and made no effort to assist him in repelling any attack that might be made upon the banks in the North-Eastern district.

12. Mr Dixon, in paragraph 4, states that during the seven months Captain Standish and Superintendent Hare remained in charge of the pursuit no reliable information was obtained respecting the whereabouts of the outlaws. In our minds this fact proves that the officers mentioned were incapable of grappling with the difficulties of the situation, more particularly as they had with them double the number of men, and incurred double the extra expenditure, in prosecuting the pursuit, allowed Mr Nicolson.

13. As regards Mr Hare's health having broken down after his seven months' duty, it has been proved in evidence that he was not so incapacitated as to be prevented from attending a series of coursing matches held in the district prior to his return to the depot.


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