The Queensland Premier has responded to calls for an Inquiry into the Rick Flori affair by asserting that ‘there are no plans for an Inquiry at this stage’ (emphasis added).

Sooner or later, the fundamental flaws highlighted by the Flori affair are going to have to be independently examined.

The Flori affair is the best example in a long time as to what is wrong with the police discipline process in Queensland.

Former Sergeant Rick Flori was criminally charged for releasing a video of a police bashing in the carpark of the Surfers Paradise police station in 2012 while the perpetrators of the bashing escaped criminal charges.

In 2012 chef Noa Begic was charged with the most minor of police charges, namely public nuisance.

He was taken to the Surfers Paradise police station, and a video camera in the police station carpark showed him being mercilessly bashed while his hands were cuffed behind his back.

In full view of their own CCTV camera, one of the police then nonchalantly washed away the bloodied floor with a bucket of water.  That police officer in Flori’s criminal trial before a Southport District Court Judge and Jury this week said he washed the blood away because it was ‘a biohazard’.

After this incident, there then followed a failure at every level of the police accountability process set up by Tony Fitzgerald QC in his landmark 1989 Police and Corruption Inquiry Report.

The supervisors of the relevant police should have immediately acted upon the scandal.

Flori then leaked the video to the media asserting that there was inaction on the matter.

According to evidence in the District Court trial, Noa Begic made a criminal complaint about the bashing but then withdrew it after he received a large financial settlement from the Queensland Police Service believed to be in the hundreds of thousands.

That civil settlement is Court sealed, and Begic is prohibited from publicly discussing the settlement.

The issue of police settlement of civil cases is a long festering problem in Queensland and calls, particularly by the Civil Liberties Council, for redacted details of each Queensland police civil settlement case to be included in the Queensland Police Service Annual Report has fallen on deaf ears over a period of years.

The Police Commissioner’s explanation for not launching criminal charges against the offending police who appear to have absolutely no defence to a charge of assault occasioning bodily harm is on the laughable and absurd basis that no charge could be laid because Begic declined to make a complaint.

It appears that Begic made a complaint but then withdrew it contemporaneously with receiving a large secret financial payout.

Amazingly the then Crime and Misconduct Commission approved and signed off on the QPS decision, thereby completely abrogating its role of properly monitoring the investigation of complaints against police.

If the Commissioner’s ‘explanation’ for not laying charges was applied across the board, most domestic violence charges would never be prosecuted nor would murders.

Every day of the week in Queensland domestic violence charges are prosecuted by police even where the victim (usually a woman) does not wish to make a complaint.

To state the obvious, murders are investigated and prosecuted where the ‘complainant’ is clearly not in the position to make a complaint.

It is almost 30 years since the Fitzgerald police reform process blueprint was laid out, and while there has been tinkering at the edges with the Fitzgerald blueprint in that time, there has been no Independent Inquiry into how the police discipline process is working, particularly as to how well the now CCC performs its role of monitoring the ongoing scenario of police investigating police.

It is all very well for the Premier to say there are ‘no plans at this stage’ for an Inquiry.  The Premier should look at the history of the years leading up to the 1987-1989 Fitzgerald Inquiry.  There were numerous Flori type incidents and fundamental failures of the police discipline process.  Those incidents reached critical mass which resulted in the Fitzgerald Inquiry and the fundamental reforms which followed.

30 years after the Fitzgerald Inquiry, a separate Inquiry should be conducted specifically into the Flori affair but also in relation to ongoing flaws with the police discipline process.  The Premier can say there are ‘no plans at this stage’ but a stage is going to be reached where the irresistible cumulative force of arguments for an Inquiry will reign supreme.