A Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Matters relating to David Edward Studley-Ruxton was established by Letters Patent on 12 March 1954. Justice W. Dovey was appointed as Commissioner. (1)
The terms of reference for the commission were to investigate :
(1) Whether David Edward Studley-Ruxton made a statutory declaration in the terms of the document published in the Daily Telegraph newspaper of Tuesday, 9th March, 1954, and if so: - (a) The circumstances in which David Edward Studley-Ruxton was arrested on the 25th February, 1954.
(b) The manner in which David Edward Studley-Ruxton was interrogated at Darlinghurst police station on 25th February 1954, and the members of the police force who took part in or were present at the interrogation.
(c) The circumstance in which David Edward Studley-Ruxton made and signed the statement dated 25th February, 1954.
(d) The manner in which and the time at which David Edward Studley-Ruxton sustained the injuries for which he received treatment at St Vincent’s Hospital on 26th February, 1954.
(e) The person by whom the interview of 26th February, 1954 between David Edward Studley-Ruxton and inspector was arranged and the name of the inspector concerned.
(f) The manner in which the interview between David Edward Studley-Ruxton and the inspector was conducted.
(g) The circumstances in which David Edward Studley-Ruxton made and signed the statement dated 26th February, 1954
(2) The circumstance in which and the reasons why the said David Edward Studley-Ruxton instructed his solicitor to send copies of the statutory declaration to the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and certain other persons. (2)
The Commission held 55 hearings, and examined 113 witnesses. 137 Exhibits were tendered to the Commission. The Commission commenced hearings on 15 March 1954. (3) The period of the Commission was extended several times on the request of the Commissioner until 31 July 1954. (4)
The Commission established that David Edward Studley - Ruxton had made a Statutory Declaration as published in the Daily Telegraph Newspaper on 9 March 1954. (5) The Statutory Declaration contained allegations that: Studley – Ruxton was not informed of the reasons for his arrest on 25 February 1954; that he subsequently received ill treatment during his interrogation at Darlinghurst Police Station; and that when he made a complaint of assault at his subsequent Court appearance, he was bribed or coerced into signing further statements indicating his injuries had been sustained in a fight which occurred before his arrest. (6) The Commissioner investigated these allegations under the framework of terms of reference 1 (a) – (f), and concluded the following in relation to events on the 25th, and 26th of February, 1954.
The Commission concluded that Studley – Ruxton had been arrested at 5.20 p.m. in the Bar of the Australia Hotel on 25 February 1954 by Detectives Heys and Smail in the regular course of their duties, and that he was informed at time of the reasons for his arrest. (7) The Commissioner also concluded that Studley – Ruxton’s interrogation by Detective –Constables Birchall and Hall had been conducted in a proper manner up until he had signed a statement dated 25 February 1954 at 6.50 p.m. However, Dovey concluded, “I am unable to find in what manner the interrogation proceeded after the signing of the statement”. (8) Constables Carmody and Thomas, and Detective- Sergeant Dimmock were also present at the interrogation, but only as observers.
The Commissioner found that Studley-Ruxton had voluntarily signed a statement dated 25 February 1954 at the time of his interrogation. He also found that his injuries which were observed at St Vincent’s Hospital on 26 February had been received sometime between 22 February and 5.20 on 25 February 1954 ”probably at Riversdale flats in the early hours of 23rd of February when engaged in a drunken brawl” but he also concluded that “I am unable to find when and how he received the injuries to his face and arms”. (9)
Studley-Ruxton’s allegations of assault during his initial interrogation on 25 February 1954 were ultimately reported to Superintendent Flint who then arranged for Inspector Aldridge to investigate the complaints, and to ensure that Studley – Ruxton was given the opportunity to see a Chamber Magistrate about his allegations. (10) The Commissioner refuted Studley-Ruxton’s account of the interview, which took place between himself and Inspector Aldridge on 26 February 1954. He concluded that the interview between Aldridge and Ruxton had been conducted in a proper manner, and also that “No attempt of any kind was made to influence Ruxton to make a false statement, in order to exculpate the Darlinghurst Police.” (11)
The Commissioner concluded the following under terms of reference 2: that Studley-Ruxton signed a letter on 8 March 1954 issuing his solicitor J.R.Poole with instructions to carry several tasks, which included sending copies of his Statutory Declaration to the Commissioner of Police, but also to the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition, and the major daily newspapers; This letter appears to have been drafted by Poole, and confirmed earlier verbal instructions he had received from Ruxton; The reason that the Statutory Declaration was sent by Poole to the Premier and other parties was to ensure proper attention by the Commissioner of Police to his client’s case, particularly as the police force was subject to controversy at that time. (12)
The Commission ended with the publishing of the final report on 29 July 1954
1. Report of The Royal Commission of Inquiry into certain matters relating to David Edward Studley-Ruxton, p.3 NSW Parliamentary Papers 1954-1955, Vol.1, p.179.
2. Loc. cit.
3. Ibid. p. 5.
4. Ibid. p. 3.
5. Ibid. p. 18.
6. Ibid. pp. 11-13.
7. Ibid. p.19.
8. Ibid. p.23.
9. Loc. cit.
10. Loc. cit.
11. Ibid. p. 26.
12. Ibid. p.27.