| 22.07,09. 12:43 AM |
Firefighters claim sex cover-up
By Gemma Jones From: The Daily Telegraph
July 21, 2009 11:27PM
AT LEAST three firefighters have come forward with claims of sexual abuse and bullying at a Sydney fire station, with an investigation now being held to determine if there was a cover-up.
The case from 1989 was referred to police and the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) for investigation in March.
Commissioner Greg Mullins worked at the Sydney City brigade at the time of the alleged abuse but the NSW Fire Brigade said he had no knowledge of it.
He has spoken with police and referred the case to ICAC.
More than 30 firefighters are reported to have been interviewed.
A previously secret briefing note has revealed the fire brigade's fear of "damage to the reputation of the NSW Fire Brigade and NSW Government" when the allegations became public.
"In early 2007 a current serving firefighter attended a performance meeting with his then superintendent and inspector at which he made claims of having been sexually assaulted, bullied and harassed at City of Sydney fire station," the briefing note leaked to 2GB presenter Ray Hadley said.
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"The matter was reported to the area commander and it is alleged that pressure was brought to bear on the firefighter not to formalise his complaint. Allegations have been made that several senior officers engaged in the illegal conduct, or were aware of it, or attempted to influence the firefighter to not formalise his complaint."
The firefighter was moved to another station and was given compensation by the NSW Fire Brigade.
He made further claims that firefighters had been drunk at the station and possessed pornography and he also raised theft allegations.
Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan yesterday confirmed the ICAC investigation.
"Allegations an investigation in 2007 was ceased because the person asked for them not to continue, (because) he was pressured to do that, is certainly quite critical and I've asked for that to be referred to ICAC," Mr Whan said.
"It's unacceptable behaviour and it does appear from these allegations that practices in the past are not up to the standard that we would expect."
Acting Commissioner John Benson, who is filling in for Mr Mullins while he is at a conference overseas, said the service was co-operating with police.
"We are very concerned that there have been reports of assault and harassment," he said.