You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Siege decisions 'not my call': Scipione

AAP logoAAP 16/08/2016 By Daniel McCulloch and Toby Mann

The NSW Police chief has denied any strategic involvement during the deadly Lindt Cafe siege and repeatedly rejected suggestions he meddled in tactical decisions based on fears of negative public perception.

But Commissioner Andrew Scipione has accepted some of the blame for the tragic outcome.

"I wasn't responsible for the decisions that were made but in terms of the buck, it stops with me," Mr Scipione told a coronial inquest on Wednesday.

Mr Scipione was the final witness to front the long-running inquiry into the December 2014 siege, after his deputy Cath Burn, the state's counter-terrorism head, was grilled for more than a day.

He faced intense questioning over an email sent to subordinates at 11.59pm on the night of the fatal stand-off about a YouTube video of a female hostage filmed inside the cafe.

"Let's move to have it pulled down from YouTube ASAP. I'll leave it to you and others," his email read.

In the clip, the hostage said police were doing nothing. Mr Scipione repeatedly denied his email was a direction to remove the video because it was critical of officers.

He was instead offering advice, worried about the video causing reprisal attacks in the days after the siege, the inquest heard.

Mr Scipione agreed removing the video may have angered gunman Man Haron Monis, but argued the final decision to do so rested with those in charge of "operational command".

He was also quizzed about a telephone call he made to Commander Mark Jenkins at 10.57pm on December 15, some three hours before the siege reached its deadly conclusion.

A scribe alongside Mr Jenkins on the night recorded of their conversation: "DA to occur as last resort - COP (Commissioner of Police)".

The letters DA referred to a deliberate action, which was produced but never approved during the siege. The plan would have seen police storm the cafe at a time of their choosing.

This phone call has emerged as one of the most critical areas in trying to determine whether or not Mr Scipione inappropriately interfered in the siege.

Mr Scipione said he called to check on Mr Jenkins' welfare soon after the commander took charge, insisting the commander broached the DA topic during their brief conversation.

When Mr Jenkins earlier fronted the inquest, he originally said they were Mr Scipione's words, before later telling the coroner they were instead his own.

"I can assure you I know I would not be asking or telling Jenkins or any other commander that a DA was a last resort, simply because that's not my responsibility, that's not my role," Mr Scipione said.

Earlier, Ms Burn told the inquest she deleted texts received during the siege because she was told she wasn't an "involved officer."

She also insisted she "did not need to know the detail" of the siege.

"That was not my job," she told NSW Coroner Michael Barnes.

Mr Scipione also played down a text message he sent to his deputy about high-tech surveillance equipment late in the siege, saying it pertained to equipment borrowed from other agencies, which had no operational impact.

The inquest is expected to resume in September before Mr Barnes retires to consider his findings.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon