Police Commissioner Ian Stewart announces his retirement on Monday. Picture: Richard Waugh/AAP
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart announces his retirement on Monday. Picture: Richard Waugh/AAP

Questions over timing of top cop’s exit

QUEENSLAND Police Service says revelations about the Commissioner's wife having a driving infringement torn up had no bearing on his decision to announce his retirement earlier this week.

ABC reported yesterday that Police Commissioner Ian Stewart's wife Carol - who is former police officer - recently wrote to the officer-in-charge of a police station in Brisbane's north in a bid to have a fine overturned.

It was alleged Mrs Stewart did not stop at a stop sign in the Sandgate area and was subsequently fined more than $300.

Queensland Police Service yesterday would not release Mrs Stewart's letter to the police officer, citing privacy reasons.

It also did not release the exact date of the incident, or explain why the fine was overturned.

Asked whether news of the fine being overturned had any bearing on Mr Stewart's decision to quit, a QPS spokesman said: "No. The Commissioner has already commented publicly about his reasons for retiring."

 

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart announces his retirement with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday. Picture: Richard Waugh/AAP
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart announces his retirement with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday. Picture: Richard Waugh/AAP

 

At a press conference on Monday, Mr Stewart said he wanted to spend time with his family in retirement, and allow his successor to settle into the role before the next state election.

QPS said Mrs Stewart was well within her right to contact the officer-in-charge about the fine.

"As a private citizen, she exercised her legal right and wrote a letter to the Officer in Charge, in the area where the alleged offence occurred, seeking for the ticket to be withdrawn," a statement read.

"This is a process open to all members of the public who have been issued an infringement notice.

"Mrs Stewart received a response in writing from the officer-in-charge outlining the Infringement Notice had been withdrawn."

Meanwhile, questions about the mental health of the investigating officer were also asked in Parliament yesterday.

The LNP asked if the fine-issuing officer being on sick leave was connected to the circumstances around the infringement notice being torn up, and whether the matter had been referred to the police Ethical Standards Command.

 

Police Minister Mark Ryan in Question Time yesterday. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Police Minister Mark Ryan in Question Time yesterday. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

 

Police Minister Mark Ryan responded by saying he was only made aware of the issue yesterday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she too had no knowledge of the waiving of the fine prior to Mr Stewart's retirement announcement on Monday.

"Any member of the public can appeal a traffic infringement," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"If there is any evidence that any wrongdoing whatsoever has been done, these matters can be investigated."

Ms Palaszczuk would not say if she had sought assurances from the Commissioner's office that there was no wrongdoing involved in the waiving of the fine but insisted that if anyone had evidence they should report it to the Crime and Corruption Commission.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said if the Government had nothing to hide they should refer the matter to the CCC.

"Most ordinary Queenslanders can't, after they get a traffic fine, just go into police station and have it ripped up," she said.

"It was pretty obvious in the chamber there today that the Police Minister was unable to answer the questions adequately and I think that's very telling."

The CCC confirmed a complaint had been received yesterday.

In a statement the watchdog said the complaint would be assessed to determine if an investigation was warranted.