Ex-cop sues over illegal bugging
A FORMER NSW drug squad detective who was illegally bugged by a secret internal affairs unit is suing the state government, NSW Police and NSW Crime Commission for damages.
A statement of claim filed in the District Court is seen as a test case that could open the floodgates for millions of dollars in compensation claims from other officers who were illegally recorded without their knowledge nearly 20 years ago.
Officer H, now a Sydney solicitor, is suing after an Ombudsman report found he had been the target of 11 illegal integrity tests by the Special Crimes and Internal Affairs unit.
The report found the secret unit had illegally bugged more than 100 police at a function, as well as the home and offices of then homicide unit head Nick Kaldas.
Ex-commissioners Andrew Scipione, Ken Moroney and Peter Ryan are expected to be subpoenaed in the lawsuit, along with former deputy commissioner Cath Burn - now in a senior position with a federal intelligence agency - over their roles in Operation Mascot, set up to investigate police corruption.
Those targeted only found out they had been the subject to listening device warrants during an unrelated court case years later - leading to a flood of complaints and the four-year Ombudsman investigation, named Prospect.
That inquiry ripped apart the police hierarchy and exposed illegal and flawed practices by SCIA.
It also led to a parliamentary inquiry and a public slanging match between the force's top officers at the time, Commissioner Scipione and his two deputies Burn and Kaldas.
The Ombudsman report, which was widely criticised for going after the whistleblowers, recommended that NSW Police apologise to two former officers and the Crime Commission apologise to 14 former and serving officers.
The Ombudsman put most of the blame on the Crime Commission for the illegal bugging but Officer H claims to have new evidence which he says clearly shows the Commission was acting on behalf of NSW Police, which has so far not apologised to the officer.