Queens­land po­lice con­sta­ble told to give ev­i­dence in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence pri­vacy case

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Ben Smee

The Queens­land po­lice of­fi­cer who leaked a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence vic­tim’s de­tails has been or­dered to give ev­i­dence in her breach of pri­vacy case.

Julie* was forced to go into hid­ing af­ter a se­nior con­sta­ble, Neil Pun­chard, ac­cessed her ad­dress from the po­lice QPRIME database and sent it to her for­mer hus­band, who has been con­victed of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

She is seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion from the Queens­land po­lice ser­vice in the Queens­land civil and ad­min­is­tra­tive tri­bunal. The state gov­ern­ment is fight­ing the case on a tech­ni­cal­ity, ad­mit­ting the breach of pri­vacy but ar­gu­ing that an agency can­not be held re­spon­si­ble for the ac­tions of an in­di­vid­ual.

Pun­chard was dis­ci­plined by the po­lice but not sus­pended, sacked or charged. Last week po­lice tried to prevent him from be­ing called as a wit­ness. The tri­bunal has or­dered that he must at­tend.

On the eve of the hear­ing, Julie has pub­lished an open let­ter to the Queens­land pre­mier, An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk, on Face­book, crit­i­cis­ing the gov­ern­ment for fight­ing her in the tri­bunal to try to avoid pay­ing up to $100,000 in com­pen­sa­tion.

The pre­mier and at­tor­ney gen­eral have both re­fused to com­ment, cit­ing the on­go­ing le­gal pro­ceed­ings, de­spite le­gal ex­perts say­ing the state cab­i­net has abil­ity to end the case and of­fer Julie fair com­pen­sa­tion.

Julie is self-rep­re­sented in QCAT. The gov­ern­ment has briefed a bar­ris­ter to ap­pear on its be­half.

“I wanted to openly tell you how dis­grace­ful and dam­ag­ing your de­ci­sions have been to my fam­ily and I,” Julie wrote.

“The im­pact of the de­ci­sion to fight me just be­cause you have the re­sources and power to do so is not only morally and eth­i­cally wrong, it is an abuse of po­si­tion, a waste of the pub­lic purse, and does not meet the com­mu­nity ex­pec­ta­tions.

“I was raised to have great re­spect for the men and women that serve in our po­lice ser­vice, and that ide­al­is­tic view of what I thought all po­lice were has been shat­tered.

“This is not a story about one rot­ten ap­ple, one rogue of­fi­cer. That very con­cept alone is a de­lib­er­ate min­imi­sa­tion con­cept. It’s about the rot­ten ap­ple that spread and af­fected many other ap­ples in the bar­rel.

“What has hap­pened to me has not been able to go on with­out many peo­ple en­abling the de­ci­sions.”

Julie told Guardian Aus­tralia the stress of tak­ing on the case was “over­whelm­ing”.

“I know I am not the only one in such a sit­u­a­tion and I sym­pa­thise with women who may lack sup­port and are sub­jected to this process,” she wrote in the open let­ter. “That is why I am speak­ing, not only for my­self but for all the women who are not alive to tell the story.

“I re­fused to be vic­timised any fur­ther. I will stand there on Fri­day in Bris­bane against the lawyers your gov­ern­ment is fund­ing and be the voice for women that are not lucky enough to be alive to keep fight­ing.”

•Julie is a pseu­do­nym used to pro­tect the vic­tim’s iden­tity. She has also been re­ferred to as El­iz­a­beth in pre­vi­ous re­port­ing about her case.

Pho­to­graph: Dave Hunt/AAP

Queens­land se­nior con­sta­ble Neil Pun­chard has been or­dered to give ev­i­dence in a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence vic­tim’s breach of pri­vacy case.

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