The Wood Royal Commission unleashed an extraordinary investigation into corruption that swept through the police service like a tsunami. For many, the stakes were life or death. Not everyone survived.
It has been said that since the first fleet arrived Australians have been unsure whether they were on the side of the convicts or the guards. From that moment allegations of corruption and the Australian police have never been far apart. By the 1970s many began to suspect that the 16,000 member New South Wales police force – the 3rd largest in the world – was rotten with entrenched corruption. There was talk of high-level police protecting drug dealers and trafficking drugs themselves, of police involved in assault, in verballing, in fabricating evidence… even in murder. If true, this was not a case of a few bad apples but a diseased crop – the police were out of control.
In 1994 an extraordinary confluence of events allowed a now legendary team of corruption fighters to take them on. To do so they unleashed an investigative model so extreme, it seemed to challenge the very boundaries of justice itself. Told by the key players themselves: Independent MP John Hatton, Justice James Wood, Counsels Gary Crooke and John Agius, and Investigator Nigel Hadgkiss, The Inquisition is the story of the Wood Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service that became an international model for battling entrenched corruption. Like The Untouchables, the stakes were high in their unprecedented investigation. For many, it was a matter of life or death. Not everyone survived.