Police admit breach over Prince debacle

POLICE Commissioner Ian Stewart has apologised to the owners of Brisbane bar Jade Buddha for police requesting them to break the new ID scanner laws to allow the Crown Prince of Denmark to enter last Friday.

"Certainly I think an apology is due to them by the fact that our staff have asked them to do something that is a breach of the legislation - there's no doubt about that," he said.

"I am very grateful for the way that the staff and management of Jade Buddha reacted to this visit by an eminent person, by a person of royal lineage of another country who was being protected by the Queensland Police Service and other security agencies."

Commissioner Stewart has also apologised to patrons who took offence at the treatment given to the Crown Prince.

"I apologise unreservedly to anyone who was at the Jade Buddha if the Prince's presence there caused any

Jade Buddha owner Phil Hogan has blasted the ‘stupid law’.
Jade Buddha owner Phil Hogan has blasted the ‘stupid law’.

concern," he said.

"Or if the way our officers acted created a perception of intimidation, or what have you."

But Commissioner Stewart backed the officers' handling of the situation.

"It is a difficult situation when our people have to make those split-second operational decisions," he said.

"I backed them 100 per cent for what they did last Friday night in looking after the Prince the way they did."

Commissioner Stewart said the police and the Prince had likely engaged in a "technical breach" of the legislation.

But he said the Jade Buddha bar's owners were unlikely to be prosecuted because they acted "in good faith" under instruction from Queensland Police.

The apologies came after Jade Buddha bar co-owner Phil Hogan called for one from the Police Commissioner for publicly claiming yesterday that the Prince Frederik debacle "wasn't true".

"We weren't trying to be unfair or unreasonable to anyone," Mr Hogan told ABC radio Wednesday morning.

"I think we deserve an apology."

However, Police Commissioner Ian Stewart had stood by the comments he made during a press conference yesterday afternoon in which he said the reports were "not correct".

Speaking with ABC Brisbane radio, Commissioner Stewart said he would be happy to meet with Mr Hogan to clear the air.

11:28pm: Crown Prince Frederik’s entourage is turned away by Jade Buddha security.
11:28pm: Crown Prince Frederik’s entourage is turned away by Jade Buddha security.

"I have never said Phil Hogan or any of his people did the wrong thing," he said.

"I'm happy to talk to Phil but I've never contradicted his perception of the events."

Meanwhile, security footage has emerged showing Crown Prince Frederik's entourage being initially refused entry into a Brisbane nightclub because of issues with the future Danish king's identification.

The footage, as well as an incident report from the night - obtained exclusively by The Courier-Mail - reveal the Prince's armed protection detail approached security staff at the Jade Buddha bar about 11.20pm Friday to alert them to his arrival.

12:18am: They return with the Crown Prince (front centre).
12:18am: They return with the Crown Prince (front centre).

Venue manager Quinten Robinson said Prince Frederik's entourage were told he wouldn't be able to enter the bar without scanning his ID because of Queensland's strict licensing laws.

The group then left. Nearly an hour later, at 12.18am, video footage shows the casually-dressed Prince walking in, surrounded by seven members of the security team.

The incident report said an Australian Federal Police officer told bouncers his detail could "overrule'' Queensland liquor license laws without producing identification.

The entourage and security detail then breezed by venue staff who were powerless to stop them.

In his report, Mr Robinson said he was approached by one of the officers who "wanted me to allow another gentleman to enter the venue without being scanned.

30 seconds later: The Crown Prince (left) and his group enter the venue.
30 seconds later: The Crown Prince (left) and his group enter the venue.

"I tried to stop him from walking in but the officer told us that as QPS (and he was also with AFP) they would overrule Liquor Licence Qld and answer to them if they were to question us on the issue of the gentleman not being scanned in the ID ­scanner.''

At one point, the stunned Prince allegedly asked one of his security team whether or not Jade Buddha staff thought he was a criminal.

Prince Frederik is the most famous identity tripped up by Queensland's controversial ID scanning laws, which have caught out former Queensland Maroons legends, boxing great Danny Green and even pensioners and family members of bar owners.

The saga yesterday became international news, with tourist chiefs and Brisbane's Lord Mayor slamming the lockout laws as an embarrassment.

Brisbane Marketing chief Brett Fraser said the debacle "certainly doesn't help Brisbane's international image".

"It certainly appears that it's impacting our reputation as a city," Mr Fraser said.

Pub and club operators in Brisbane said yesterday they are often refusing entry to 60 or more patrons a week, most of whom are tourists from out of state or overseas.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said recent cases of pensioners, including an 80-year-old grandmother, being refused entry to a pub showed that matters have gone "from the sublime to the ridiculous''.

"We do really need to rethink laws when it gets to that point,'' Cr Quirk said.

"This can be reputationally very damaging if word gets out.''

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart and Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath yesterday tried to hose down the scandal, but the CCTV footage and incident report shows the Prince's entourage was told he could not enter the club without valid ID before they returned and made their way in.

Mr Stewart described reports as "not correct" but could not say whether the Prince's entourage was told he needed to produce ID.

"That is an area that we are still looking at," Mr Stewart said.

"It is very unusual that you would take a person of that status and ask them to produce a driver's licence, but also a retinal scan."

Ms D'Ath told Parliament the event had not caused a diplomatic incident.

Many notable sporting personalities, including Queensland rugby league players, have also been caught by the new laws, which came in to effect in "safe night precincts'' on July 1 and require that patrons show ID after 10pm.

Perth-born boxing legend Danny Green was also turned away from the Caxton Hotel venue on the night of the Jeff Horn vs. Manny Pacquaio fight in June.

The Port Office Hotel's Nick Gregorski was forced to turn away his own 65-year-old mother from his venue after she stepped out.

News Corp Australia

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