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Former Bureau of Meteorology staffer fights to clear his name of drug, sex and crime claims

Date

Noel Towell

A former public servant has vowed to continue his legal battle to unmask an anonymous colleague who accused him of moonlighting as an outlaw bikie, supplying hard drugs to prostitutes in return for sexual favours.

The ex-Bureau of Meteorology technician says he was hounded out of his job partly because of the anonymous accuser who also alleged that he was drunk, stoned, fishing and joyriding in official vehicles and while he was supposed to be working.

In the latest chapter of the former public servant’s struggle, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has backed the Bureau’s decision to not release the emails that sparked code of conduct investigations and notifications to the police.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons and who has always denied any wrongdoing, says he is determined to find out who made the accusations and will take his case to the Federal Court.

In a series of emails sent to Bureau of Meteorology bosses in Adelaide in early to mid-2010, an anonymous “informant” alleged that the technical officer had been trespassing and fishing on private land in rural South Australia while out on official hydrology business.

He was also accused of being drunk, “joy riding” and having a marijuana joint in one hand and a can of beer in the other when he was approached, laughing hysterically and “in a stupor”.

A later email accused the man of being a member of the Gypsy Joker outlaw motorcycle gang and said he supplied methamphetamine to prostitutes in exchange for sexual favours.

“I don’t even ride a motorbike,” the man told The Canberra Times.

Bureau bosses failed to substantiate the allegations, but referred them to South Australian police who took no action.

The BOM has always refused to disclose the source of the claims.

They knocked back their former employee’s Freedom of Information request to release the emails in a decision that was later backed up by the Australian Information Commissioner.

The former public servant appealed to the AAT where his lawyer Edward Aujard argued his client had the right to identify the source of the accusations so he could clear his name.

The Adelaide-based lawyer submitted there was a public interest in the victim of malicious and false accusations being able to ascertain the source of those allegations and defend themselves. 

The Bureau admitted it had not been able to contact the author or authors of the email and still did know their identities, but said it did not regard the accusations as false or malicious, merely unsubstantiated.

The former public servant is convinced it was a fellow BOM employee.

“This person has just created a bogus email account, used it for a slander job and just abandoned the addresses,” he said.

But Tribunal Deputy President Katherine Bean found there was a risk that an innocent third party might have had their online identities used to make the accusations and would find themselves subject to action by the former public servant if she ordered the release of the documents.

“Although the allegations have caused great distress to the applicant, and he would like the opportunity to 'clear his name', he is no longer employed by the Bureau and the allegations are not causing him any ongoing tangible detriment,” Ms Bean wrote.

Mr Aujard said on Monday that his client was planning an appeal to the Federal Court.

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