NT children’s commissioner will ‘vigorously defend’ criminal charge

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday July 20, 2020

Colleen Gwynne (AAP Image/Lucy Hughes Jones)

The Northern Territory children’s commissioner has labelled the abuse-of-office charge recently made against her as “misconceived”.

Police on Thursday revealed the charge had been laid after an investigation by the Special References Unit. A statement issued by Colleen Gwynne’s lawyers on Friday said the public servant intended to plead not guilty.

“I will vigorously defend this charge, and my reputation,” she said.

“This is a misconceived charge.”

Gwynne said she was “still not aware of the specifics of the charge” and police had not offered her an interview.

“Like every citizen, I am entitled to the presumption of innocence, and I look forward to clearing my name,” she said.

Under the NT’s criminal code, abuse of office as a public servant is defined as acting or causing others to act in a prejudicial way.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

Gwynne was appointed children’s commissioner in 2015 and was recently reappointed to the role for another five years.

She argued she has “always been motivated to act in the public interest and in the interests of NT children”.

“In my career of over 30 years I have always adopted this approach,” she said.

Last month Gwynne released her findings following an investigation into the abuse and harm of 12 Aboriginal foster children, stemming from a number allegations made since 2004.

The public servant was previously a NT Police commander, where she worked for more than 25 years. She notably led the investigation into the murder of British tourist Peter Falconio.

Gwynne will appear before Darwin Local Court on August 27.

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