Lieutenant General David Morrison, the former Chief of Army whose 2013 speech about sexual abuse in the service became an internet sensation, has pulled out of a planned address to the National Press Club next week after details of a leaked police report suggested he knew about a notorious sex ring for 11 months earlier than thought.
The ABC’s 7.30 program last week published details of the NSW police report into the actions of the so-called “Jedi council”, a group of officers who filmed themselves having sex and then emailed images to their colleagues. The ABC quoted the 120-page report as saying Defence failed to cooperate with the police investigation, an allegation Defence denies.
It also says “the findings that the Chief of Army was not briefed in August 2012 are simply not supported”.
Morrison, who retired in in May 2015 and was named the 2016 Australian of the Year. In the June 2013 video he said “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”. That address has been viewed more than 1.7 million times on YouTube.
Morrison said he only found out about what had happened shortly before going public on the issue.
He cancelled the December 7 address on November 25, two days after the ABC story, citing medical reasons.
Morrison’s former colleague, Catherine McGregor, who was also in the running for Australian of the year, and was critical of the choice of Morrison before later apologising, took to Twitter calling his withdrawal from the press club address “a disgrace”.
The AOTY has cancelled his address at National Press Club. Simply a disgrace. Needed to front up.
— Catherine McGregor (@CateMc3273) November 29, 2016
The issue of the Jedi council has continued to be controversial for the Army, with Tasmanian crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie, herself a former Army soldier, pushing to have Morrison stripped of the Australian of the Year title.
Her concerns include the treatment of the highest ranking officer caught up in the incident, former lieutenant colonel Karel Dubsky. He was relieved of his post at the time for “failing to remain aware of issues that affect him, his unit and army”, but was later cleared of any involvement, and did not open any of the emails sent in the scandal. But he did not have his command restored.
Last week Dubsky told the ABC’s 7.30 he ended up in a psychiatric ward and tried to kill himself and made a second attempt when Morrison was made Australian of the year.
He is seeking an apology from Defence, which says the matter is now closed and anyone with further complaints about their treatment should take civil action or complain to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
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