Coroner Michael Barnes
by Dee McLachlan
This morning at 10 am, Coroner Michael Barnes delivered his findings on the siege at the Lindt Cafe on 15 and 16 December, 2005.
The usual stories emerged on the mainstream media (MSM). Dr Clarke Jones, a criminologist, was interviewed and is confused why Man Haron Monis was out on bail in the first place. Terrorism analyst Greg Barton thought the the siege could have been handled in a different way.
The MSM discussed how Monis was taken off terror watch list in 2009, that he was a narcissistic moaner not deemed dangerous. They discussed how authorities probably did not understand the threat, and that we are now better prepared. Blah blah blah.
These are some of the key findings of the report as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald article:
- Several errors led to Monis being on bail at the time of the Lindt Cafe siege despite facing being charged with accessory to murder his ex-wife while already on bail for 40 sex offences…
- The deaths and injuries that occurred during the siege were not the fault of the NSW Police but the blame for those rests on the shoulders of Monis.
- It remains unclear if Monis was motivated by Islamic State to prosecute its “bloodthirsty agenda”…
- The police procedure of “contain and negotiate” failed.
- Police took too long waiting 10 minutes to storm the Lindt cafe after a shot was fired. Tori Johnson died between that first shot and police entering the cafe.
- The NSW Police negotiators practice during the siege “lacked sophistication” and no progress was made towards a negotiated settlement at any stage during the stand-off.
- The psychologist brought in to consult police was strongly criticised – he was permitted to give advice about police tactics, made erroneous and unrealistic assessments about what was happening and went beyond his area of expertise to give advice about Islamic terrorism.
- The glass between police snipers and Monis was too hard to achieve an accurate shot.
- The Australian Defence Force shouldn’t, and couldn’t, have taken over the siege.
There were questions that were never answered — and questions that were never asked.
I have skimmed through the lengthy document, and I will note here a few areas below (quoting from the document):
Chapter 13: Negotiation
- The primary strategy of the NSWPF for responding to sieges is one of containment and negotiation. That involves controlling entry, exit and communications from and to the stronghold and communicating with the hostage taker/s to identify their demands and the conditions under which they might release the hostages and surrender to police. That approach was adopted during the Lindt Café siege. It failed…
They never managed to speak to Monis. To continue:
- It is not suggested that the negotiators failed to adequately pursue opportunities to engage with Monis because of any lack of diligence or commitment. Rather, it appears that their practice lacked the sophistication necessary to generate options, probably because that had never been necessary in their previous work dealing with domestic sieges.
- No progress towards a negotiated settlement of the siege was made at any stage…
To me there is one person that seems to be the hub of the wheel.
The Consultant Psychiatrist
- A consultant psychiatrist was called in by police and arrived at the Police Forward Command Post at about 1.15 p.m. He remained there, providing advice to negotiators and participating in telephone conferences between the Police Forward Command Post and Police Operations Centre, until the end of the siege.
- …It was apparent that the police commanders, police negotiators and the Consultant Psychiatrist involved in the Lindt Café siege response lacked a shared understanding of the limits of the psychiatrist’s role.
- The Consultant Psychiatrist’s participation in the siege response was suboptimal in four respects: he was permitted to give advice about negotiation strategy and tactics, he made erroneous and unrealistic assessments about what was occurring in the stronghold, he gave ambiguous advice about the nature of Monis’ behaviour, and he was permitted to go beyond his area of expertise to give advice about Islamic terrorism.
Who is this person?
Who do they work for?
What experience did they have, and who organised for this person to be “in charge” of the negotiations?
Negotiators starting arriving on the scene just after 10 am in the morning — very soon after the siege began.
At 10.20 am the negotiating team was ready to negotiate.
At 10.42 am, a negotiator, called Peter, made the first call to Tori Johnson number (retrieved from 000). The called again and spoke to Louisa Hope (who passed on Monis’s demands to speak with the prime minister). Just after 11.00 am they called the number and spoke with Fiona Ma. Monis was demanding to get onto the ABC, and Asst Commissioner Fuller saw this demand as an opportunity to engage with Monis. But the negotiators did not follow this through.
Conclusion: Missed calls.
- Eight calls by hostages to a number they had been told would connect them with a negotiator were not answered—four around 8.00 p.m. and another four between 12.30 a.m. and 1.00 a.m. An unknown number of calls were also diverted…
(541) Shortly after 6.30 p.m., Major S became aware that TAG East had constructed a mock-up of the café and that it was available for use by NSW or interstate tactical operatives to practice entry and/or familiarise themselves with the café’s layout.
Michael Klooster, a barrister, had represented Monis in court in the past — and saw Monis in the cafe that morning when he went in to order a coffee. He spoke briefly with Monis.
It was at 2.15 p.m. when Klooster was watching TV that he thought it must be Monis. He called up the National Security Hotline. Klooster allegedly offered to negotiate with Monis — but this offer was never taken up.
This is the link to download the coroners findings.
Mary Maxwell’s book on the Siege here.