Australian Police Officer Suspended After Speaking at Freedom Rally

By Steve Milne
Steve Milne
Steve Milne
December 7, 2021 Updated: December 8, 2021

Northern Territory Police are taking action against an Alice Springs detective sergeant over his resignation letter to Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker and a speech he made at a COVID-19 freedom rally, which they say were breaches of the police code of conduct.

Detective Sergeant Leith Phillips, who has chosen to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and is a 24-year veteran of the force, sent his resignation letter to Chalkner on Thursday, Dec. 2, stating that his last day would be Jan. 3. However, he was “kicked out” of Alice Springs police station on Dec. 3, while collecting his possessions, NT Independent reported.

Then on Dec. 4, the Alice Springs Police Commander and Acting Commander paid him a home visit to serve him a notice for two alleged serious breaches of discipline.

According to the notice, Phillips had engaged in improper conduct when delivering his off-duty speech at the “Free in the NT” rally, while his resignation letter to Chalker was “disgraceful and improper”, and had contravened the police code of conduct.

NT Independent reported that in the notice, Acting Commander Kylie Anderson said it was highly likely that numerous people at the rally would have known he was a police officer, and they may have lost confidence in his ability to fulfil his professional responsibilities.

“While you stated that your comments were your own, not a reflection on the employer, but the contents of the speech had the real and actual ability to diminish the public’s faith in [the] ability to carry out your role as a sergeant and acting senior sergeant of police,” she wrote.

She also said that he had referred to the Chief Health Officer’s directives as“draconian” and a “breach of civil rights”.

“As a police officer in the NTPF you’re required to support the government of the Northern Territory despite your personal beliefs. And you stated at times you are ’embarrassed to do the profession I do, it is not what I signed up for’,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, Phillips’ resignation letter was critical of Commissioner Chalker.

“Sir, and I use this honorific purely due to the respect I hold for the office of the Commissioner of Police, not the person who currently holds this position, as I no longer have any confidence in your ability to lead this organisation with respect, honour, and integrity,” it reads.

The fully-vaccinated Phillips was suspended without pay for the alleged breaches and faces dismissal if found guilty by the ensuing internal investigation.

In an online video published on NT News, Phillips said the Acting Commander had kicked him out of the Alice Springs police station on Friday because “they are afraid of what I might do.”

“Because of my stance and because I’m angry, apparently … Twenty-four years and this is how I get treated – ‘grab your box and piss off out of the police station’. Unbelievable,” he said.

“And they wonder why people are resigning and leaving when you’re treated like this.”

Epoch Times Photo
Australians protesting against government-mandated health restrictions, increasing powers, and the Pandemic Bill in Melbourne, Australia, on Nov. 6, 2021. (Supplied)

The NT Independent sought comments from experienced and former colleagues who worked with Phillips, of which the paper said all called him an officer of the highest integrity.

Due to fear of repercussions, most of these colleagues wished to remain anonymous.

“In terms of having a moral compass, he is the most true to that in a police officer I have ever met,” one said.

“He’s done 24 years but probably has the equivalent of 200 years of experience. It is such a big loss. It is disgusting. Heaps of officers are disgusted. They are ropeable, the senior ones anyway,” said another.

Northern Territory Police declined to comment on the action being taken against Phillips, saying it is subject to an internal investigation.

Phillips is among a growing number of police officers who are opposed to the health mandates and the enforcement of COVID-19 public health orders.

New South Wales police officer Roland Chrystal said he has quit the police force over the COVID-19 mandates.

A 31-year veteran of the force, Chrystal joined with tens of thousands of people to peacefully protest against the COVID-19 mandates under the watching eye of his former colleagues.

“I’ve come out to speak back to my former colleagues and to tell them that you have a code of conduct and ethics, you have a Statement of Values, and you need to comply with those. And that means upholding the correct laws and also maintaining people’s rights and freedoms,” Chrystal told The Epoch Times.

He said he had reluctantly hung up his badge on Oct. 5, 2021, after spending three decades with the police.

“For the vast majority of [my career], any time I got orders from my commanders, those orders made good sense. That was until the [COVID-19] public health orders here,” he said. “There’s just no integrity in those public health orders.”

“I resigned simply to come out and talk on behalf of the cops and on behalf of the public.”

Chrystal was one of the police officers who quit after finding the current COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates rendered them unable to carry out their work based on their personal and professional ethics.

Australians Protest As Part Of "World Wide Rally For Freedom" Against Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccines
Protesters gather at Hyde Park during the ‘World Wide Rally For Freedom’ Against Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccines in Sydney, Australia, on Nov. 20, 2021. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

They came together under the name Police for Freedom, an international movement launched in Feb. 2021, with a stated mission to “educate people about their human rights, civil liberties, constitutional rights as well as the ethical code of conduct for the police and security forces.”

Stephan Kelly is another NSW police officer who recently resigned over this issue.

Kelly, a former sergeant and 28-year veteran worked with the Police Prosecutions Command for most of his career, spending the past ten years as a coronial advocate at the Coroner’s Court of NSW.

In an online video posted on Dec. 4, Kelly said that he resigned in November due to the Police Commissioner’s direction that all NSW police were required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Like many in the anti-health mandate movement, Kelly notes he is not an anti-vaxxer.

“I didn’t join the NSW Police Force to become a political weapon of the government, to enforce the most oppressive and draconian public health orders on the citizens of NSW,” he said. “I joined the NSW Police Force to make a positive difference in people’s lives and to protect and serve our community.”

The comments from the former police officers come as many state governments around Australia have enforced vaccination mandates for numerous work sectors, including education, law enforcement, transportation, healthcare and aged care.

The mandates which have been criticised by the Prime Minister of Australia are part of the push to incentivise COVID-19 vaccines across the country.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Kelly has previously said that vaccination is an important public health tool to help governments respond to pandemics and vaccination programs save lives because they “prevent people from becoming seriously ill.”

“They ensure our hospitals’ intensive care units don’t become overwhelmed, resulting in unnecessary deaths. Because they allow us to live with greater freedoms and more certainty,” he said.

Currently, Australia has 88.3 percent of its population fully vaccinated.

However, there has been a growing backlash in Australia to the restrictions with thousands protesting the health mandates every weekend across the country.

australia melbourne protest pandemic law
Protesters hold up placards during a rally against new pandemic laws and vaccination mandates in Melbourne on December 4, 2021. (William West/AFP via Getty Images)

Nina Nguyen contributed to this report.

Steve Milne