Police officer refuses to answer over alleged misconduct

A TOOWOOMBA cop declined to answer questions in an interview because it could have incriminated him.

Police said he had to answer truthfully because he was an officer but his lawyers argued there was no piece of legislation that stopped him from using self-incrimination as a defence for not speaking.

This is the crux of a legal battle between the Police Commissioner and Toowoomba's Sergeant Kerry Nugent, who has been accused of misconduct.

In March this year, police from the ethical standards command interviewed Sgt Nugent over a criminal allegation that he dishonestly dealt with information as a police officer while he was working as communications room supervisor at Toowoomba.

It is believed the misconduct stems from an incident where another police officer was suspected of drink driving.

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There were also allegations Sgt Nugent did not comply with police regulations when using personal mobile phones.

Officers conducting the interview told Sgt Nugent that legislation required him to answer truthfully, completely and promptly and he could be disciplined if he refused.

But Sgt Nugent would not answer certain questions on legal grounds, claiming privilege against self-incrimination.

Court documents showed Sgt Nugent answered general questions, including how long he had worked at Toowoomba and how the communications centre operated.

In a letter to the ethical standards command, Sgt Nugent's lawyer said: "Our client's claim of privilege is not meant as an act of defiance or disrespect to the Queensland Police Service but merely an exercise of what he has been advised by us is a common law right available to him".

Sgt Nugent's lawyers have asked the court to determine that he was entitled to refuse to answer questions during the interview.

The case is before the Supreme Court.


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