"You ruined my career. Pay me $10m': Agent sues AFP
AN Australian Federal Police agent is claiming $10.3 million in damages from the organisation for allegedly seeking reprisal against him after he became a whistleblower.
AFP agent Bradley Turner, 37, who is on worker's compensation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through Comcare, is suing the AFP in the Federal Court of Australia for allegedly breaching the Public Interest Disclosure (PID) Act.
The Act was introduced in 2013 to encourage public officials to report suspected wrongdoing in the Australian public sector and to "offer protection to 'whistleblowers' from reprisal action".
But Mr Turner said the organisation failed to abide by the Act when he reported "government sanctioned ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and corruption" to the AFP in Lae, Papua New Guinea, while he was deployed there in 2013-14.
The AFP members deployed to PNG under the International Deployment Group are based there as advisers and mentors to PNG Police and don't have powers to enforce laws.
According to Mr Turner, AFP responded to his reports of PNG Police misconduct by leading "constant internal investigations into (him) for being a whistleblower", and allegedly tried to "ruin (his) reputation" by discrediting him.
"When I told internal affairs their investigation was illegal because I had protections under the Act, I was told 'we don't give a sh*t about that, you spoke out and will be dealt with," Mr Turner told news.com.au.
"They told other AFP members not to talk to me, you name it, they went for the jugular".
A spokesperson for the AFP told news.com.au the organisation "does not comment on matters that are the subject of court proceedings".
Mr Turner said he was "suing the AFP for $10.3 million" with the "largest component of that (being) 30 years worth of salary".
"My career is effectively over," he said.
"I can't go back to the AFP for having been a whistleblower.
"The reprisals against me brought about my PTSD and made it worse."
Mr Turner said the incidents he reported took place in crime hotspot Lae, the capital of the country's second-largest province, as exclusively revealed by news.com.au.
"We were witnessing ethnic cleansing and some murders (by PNG Police) ... stuff like shooting unarmed civilians ... and it was being covered up (by the AFP) ... because of political interests in PNG ... including the asylum seeker resettlement deal on Manus," Mr Turner said.
In a previous statement, an AFP spokesperson said the organisation "does not have the jurisdiction to conduct investigations in Papua New Guinea".
"The AFP received a large amount of material from (Mr Turner) in both July 2015 and September 2015 relating to a number of matters during his deployment in PNG during 2013 and 2014," the spokesperson said.
"The AFP reviewed this material and did not identify any matters requiring further action by the AFP.
"The AFP has not received any reports from AFP members deployed to PNG alleging that they have observed Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary officers involved in murders."
Mr Turner said he provided witness reports, including photographs, about violence and murders in Lae to AFP management but alleged they weren't included in the weekly reports sent by the organisation in PNG to Canberra.
"The AFP should have briefed government who then could have applied pressure through AusAID or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading," he said.
At one point, Mr Turner was under investigation for the murder of a PNG local in custody but was later cleared after the AFP found there was no evidence to support the claim.
Mr Turner said he has been unable to work since returning to Australia because of his PTSD.
"When I returned home, I put my hand up for help, and they (AFP) went after me hammer and tong," he said.
He said the AFP "fought tooth and nail" to prevent him from getting his Comcare claim approved although it was eventually accepted.
"The claim was eventually approved due to the weight of evidence that I was able to provide to Comcare such as medical reports, photographic evidence of traumatic incidences and my outstanding performance evaluation which specifically mentioned several incidences," he said.
"What worries me is how many officers from PNG put in claims and got knocked back.
"I had photographic evidence which helped me, it's highly unlikely everyone else has that as well.
"I would never have gotten PTSD if the reporting from Lae was not sanitised and if the AFP had conducted a proper investigation into it instead of continuing the cover up."
The case has been to the Australian Federal Court for mention with both parties expected to attend a hearing on May 15 if not settled prior.
Mr Turner is one of almost 100 AFP Agents, past and present, who have come forward about a mental health crisis within the organisation, after it was exposed by news.com.au.
The whistleblowers have shared their concerns over bullying, the wellbeing of members and inadequate welfare support within the organisation after an agent took her own life at the AFP Melbourne headquarters last month.
Following news.com.au's reports, the Australian National Audit Office has ordered an audit "to examine the effectiveness of the AFP in managing the mental health of its employees" and is currently taking submissions from the public. The Australian Federal Police Association is also pushing senators for an inquiry into the AFP.
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