Police investigate internal leak Brigadier says was behind media article about 2019 operation

His Majesty’s Armed Force Brigadier Lord Fielakepa who is also the Acting Police Commissioner. Photo/Screenshot (Broadcom Broadcasting)

Tongan Police are investigating a leak of information to the media.

Acting Commissioner of Police, Brigadier Lord Fielakepa said information contained in a recent media report concerned an operation in 2019.

“It is clear that the information in the article, though taken out of context, would have been sourced from a police officer,” Brigadier Fielakepa said.  

 “A breach of operations security is a serious matter and I have authorised investigation into this leak of information and to establish the motive behind it.

“Operations security in all police operations is necessary to safeguard police officers and the integrity of the operations.  A breach of operations security not only places police operations at risk of failure, but it endangers the lives of police officers involved.” 

The Brigadier said a media article questioned the integrity and conduct of two senior Police officers in relation to an operation conducted in 2019. 

The article alleged that a diary, an unlicenced rifle and ammunition were seized and two suspects were arrested during this operation.  The suspects arrested were related to Acting Deputy Commissioner Ashley Fua.  It was also alleged that food and drink were donated to the Police by the family of those who were arrested.

The article claimed that Acting Deputy Commissioner (A/DC) Halatoa Taufa who leads the Drugs Enforcement Taskforce (DET) returned the diary to a family member of the owner, disregarding likely information and evidence of drug dealing. 

 Brigadier Fielakepa said an internal investigation submitted to the Commissioner of Police reported that the diary seized by a member of the taskforce was not registered as part of the evidence seized in the operation. The DET member disregarded the procedures for seized property during a police search.

A/DC Taufa gave the leader of the operation time to go through the diary to see if any information could be taken from it.

A/DC Taufa also checked the diary to see if it contained any relevant information, but there was none. The diary was then returned to the owner.

Former Police Commissioner Stephen Caldwell directed that a Last Warning be issued to the DET member who took the diary and failed to follow proper procedures.  The Commissioner also directed that all food and drinks donated to Tonga Police be given to victims of domestic violence. 

Brigadier Fielakepa said Tongan police were subject to the law and must follow the Police Code of Conduct.  The conduct of A/DC Halatoa Taufa is commendable and maintained the credibility of the Tonga Police, he said.

“The foundation for Tonga Police services is the trust given to the Tonga Police by the community and the people of Tonga,” he said.

“Tonga Police values and protects public trust through maintaining clear guidelines for Police conduct and operations.  These guidelines help to ensure appropriate level of accountability is maintained by individual police officers and the Tonga Police as an organisation.”  

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