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Charges against suspended senior cop aired in court

The Age understands the breach relates to the alleged disclosure by Mr Bateson of sensitive information he acquired about an IBAC investigation.

Mr Bateson then allegedly relayed the information to another officer, who was due to be interviewed by the corruption watchdog.

Under IBAC’s far-reaching powers, the disclosure of any information arising from an interview is an offence, even when the disclosure has not influenced the investigation.

In July last year, The Age revealed that IBAC was investigating alleged cover-ups, cronyism and internal leaks involving a group of high-ranking officers.

It is not suggested that Mr Bateson was a target of that investigation.

Thursday’s court hearing exposed a growing rift between Victoria Police and the state’s corruption watchdog, which has charged several officers with a range of offences including inappropriate disclosures, fraud, and perjury over the past 12 months.

The Police Association, which is funding Mr Bateson’s defence, is understood to be furious at IBAC’s handling of the matter and the impact it could potentially have on his decorated career.

IBAC laws make it an offence to disclose information arising from an interview.

IBAC laws make it an offence to disclose information arising from an interview. Credit:The Age

Mr Bateson’s lawyer Kerry Stephens told the court that IBAC had refused to hand over specific documents they needed to compile their defence case.

But Sarah Thomas, representing IBAC, hit back and strenuously denied that the commission was legally required to do so.

She said some of the documents were in the possession of Victoria Police and Mr Bateson’s lawyers would need to subpoena them themselves.

Magistrate Luisa Bazzani labelled it an “usual case” and expressed serious concern over IBAC’s “apparent unwillingness” to assist the man they had charged.

“Why is he expected to go on some sort of a hunt for material … when he’s accused of some extremely serious matters,” Ms Bazzani said.

“Mr Bateson is entitled to whatever material is relied upon.

“I don’t think IBAC can say ‘we don’t have it so you can’t have it’.”

When asked outside court if he was concerned about the lengthy delays in the cases, Mr Bateson and his lawyer both replied “no comment”.

The policeman was suspended from his job when charged in June but it’s understood he continues to have the backing of the police force, including Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton.

Mr Bateson has been a member of the force since the late 1980s, serving as a detective in organised crime, homicide and counter-terrorism units.

He was part of the highly publicised Purana Taskforce, which investigated Melbourne’s gangland war, where he became the inspiration for a central character in the television series Underbelly.

The matter is set to return to court in September.

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