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Officers stand by claims of corruption in AFP

AS A growing band of federal police stationed inside Redfern's TNT towers spiralled out of control in late 1988, two NSW detectives took an extraordinary stand reports Steve Barrett and John Kidman in the Sun Herald of June 22, 2008.

Across town in the bowels of the state's all-powerful Crime Commission, Sergeant John McNamara and Senior Constable Mick Kennedy faced off with one of the AFP's top Sydney men, Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Hadgkiss.

It was a career-threatening encounter. Hadgkiss was there to confront the two over allegations they had falsely accused their counterparts at the AFP Drug Investigation Unit of being spectacularly corrupt.

McNamara and Kennedy saw the tape-recorded interview as the only hope of somehow getting their story out. Hadgkiss, who would later become investigations chief at the Wood Royal Commission, pressed with questions but McNamara refused to capitulate and he moved to shut down the interrogation in frustration. But before he could, McNamara had this to say: "I'm not fully aware of the allegations that you have in your possession concerning me. However, if you believe you have sufficient evidence to charge me criminally, do so.

"I would then be prepared to make a full and public disclosure of information in my possession concerning corruption within the Australian Federal Police.

"I would call on the Federal Government to hold a royal commission into allegations of corruption and criminal behaviour by certain members of the Sydney Drug Unit".

McNamara also challenged the fact previous allegations of "frequent drug use" by members of the TNT team had been ignored.

A transcript of the alarm-ringing statement and supporting testimony was delivered to the 1996 federal Harrison inquiry, held exclusively behind closed doors.

The transcript also made its way to a 2002 parliamentary hearing chaired by Senator Bronwyn Bishop.

Neither airing led to action but nor were any of the corruption claims subsequently disputed.

McNamara became seriously ill in the fallout from the episode and retired. Kennedy was prosecuted for causing Hadgkiss to be obstructed in his duties but these days wears the conviction as a badge of honour.

"It might have been two decades ago but we'd stand by every word," he said.

"After years of having dealt with robbers, prostitutes and drug addicts I can tell you they had more integrity than some of the federal cops that were running around the Redfern drug unit."

Photo: Jon Reid - Whistleblower … Mick Kennedy.



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