Sacked bosses want apology

by Chris Griffith
Published 9 January 1993 in The Sun-Herald


my face


Four senior prison managers sacked after the 1991 mass break-out at Moreton jail will demand apologies and their re-instatement following what they claim is new, embarrassing revelations of their innocence.

In what was termed "the great escape", eight dangerous prisoners used cutting tools and a ladder to escape within days of high-security prisoner transfers to Moreton prison after the closure of Woodford jail.

However a Public Sector Management Commission report tabled in state parliament last week has revealed the four were sacked despite the Corrective Services Commission board deciding "no formal disciplinary action was warranted" against them.

The report said the Board, however, had taken disciplinary action against prisons' director-general Keith Hamburger "by way of reprimand".

The four senior managers sacked were former Corrective Services Commission assistant director of custodial corrections Max Chambers, and three former Moreton jail officials: general manager Jim Gayton, operations manager Bruce Reid, and programs manager Owen Pershouse.

The four said they were "sacrificial lambs", sacked to satisfy a political thirst that "heads roll" over the escape, and called on the Board to offer them apologies and their jobs back. They said they had never been told the Board believed they did not deserve dismissal.

Mr Pershouse said the Commission had shown his sacking to be farcical as he had since been re- employed as a consultant training community corrections officers on "supervising high-risk prisoners".

Mr Reid said corrective services now faced a "crisis of accountability". Mr Gayton said his sacking had placed strain on his family.

Mr Chambers said the decision to sack the four had been made the night of the escape, long before the inspectors' report.

"There was no due process, yet there was a perception there had to be casualties and it was a matter of who was the most convenient casualties."

Meanwhile one of the three inspectors who investigated the break-out said Mr Hamburger had sought to have the executive summary of the investigators' report toned-down.

Mr Trevor Carlyon, at that time the commission's deputy director-general, said he presented the report to Mr Hamburger "after it had been completed and bound". "Mr Hamburger expressed great concern about the executive summary, and said it would put the commission and him at great risk," he said.

He said the inspectors did not alter the body of the report, but toned down the executive summary. "We literally dismantled the report, rewrote the executive summary, and put it back together again," Mr Carlyon said.

Mr Carlyon said he had resigned his job because of what he said was interference in the investigators' report - and reaffirmed earlier intereference in the investigation process itself as detailed in the report.

Queensland Corrective Services Commission board chairman, Mr Ron Archer, and director-general Keith Hamburger could not be contacted yesterday.