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Friday, May 11, 2018

Disgraced ex-MP Barry Urban's story riddled with plot holes, committee finds






By Jacob Kagi 
According to Barry Urban, the horrors he witnessed while investigating war crimes in the Balkans as part of a 1990s United Nations mission still have a chilling effect on him two decades later.
"When you go into a town and you see bore water on the side of a wall of limestone, it is not bore water; it is actually blood," the now former WA MP told the state's most powerful parliamentary committee.
"I can tell you more gory stories of fields where DNA [was] 100 metres apart, body parts, where it was just artillery fire."
Mr Urban, elected to State Parliament in an upset result in the seat of Darling Range as part of WA Labor's 2017 landslide, had long maintained he was seconded from England's West Midlands Police to investigate atrocities linked to the conflict in the Balkans.
But the Procedure and Privileges Committee, tasked with investigating his qualifications and claims, found serious holes in that story.
Barry Urban's unproven claims:
·         He had a degree from the University of Leeds;
·         He had a Certificate of Higher Education in Policing from the University of Portsmouth;
·         He had completed nine out of 10 modules of a Diploma of Local Government;
·         He was seconded from West Midlands Police in 1998 and served with the United Nations mission in the Balkans, where he provided security for a team investigating war crimes;
·         He was posted a service medal by UK authorities;
·         He subsequently lost such medal;
·         He was entitled to wear such a medal; and
·         He was under a genuine but mistaken belief that he was entitled to wear a replica police overseas service medal.

He said he served in a team of six British police officers, but could not name one of them or even say where they came from.
He was asked if he could name a commanding officer of the task force. The best he could offer was there was a "General Molineux" there.
Perhaps coincidentally, Molineux is the name of one of the biggest football stadiums in the British police district in which Mr Urban actually did work.
A list of West Midlands officers who went to Bosnia did not include Mr Urban's name.
The only bit of evidence he could provide to the committee was a 1998 policing career review, which noted a posting to Bosnia was an aim he had.
Mr Urban said the person who wrote that, plus other senior West Midlands officers from the time, would verify his claims.
They did not.
The now-retired officer who wrote that 1998 review told the committee:
"You could not always trust everything he said. I have a feeling it's all baloney,"

"I'm absolutely convinced he never went to Bosnia," another former superior said.
The committee, who recommended Mr Urban's expulsion from Parliament, agreed.
And they found the alleged Balkans mission was not the only matter about which Mr Urban lied.
'Sounds like a load of nonsense'
The committee found claims he had completed a diploma through the WA Local Government Association were incorrect, and he was also found to have lied extensively about the "fake medal" that kicked off the whole scandal late last year.
He had initially claimed to have completed postgraduate studies at Portsmouth University, but later admitted not having ever stepped foot on the campus.
Mr Urban claimed all it took for that "qualification" was for him to submit his police probation file.
But the university has no record of him, or of anything like that course existing, and former police force colleagues outwardly mocked the suggestion when queried.
So too was his claim to have earlier secured a degree from Leeds University.
That institution had no record of him, a close work colleague from the time said it would have been "impossible" for Mr Urban to do that, and a newspaper listing of graduates at the time did not list his name.
Mr Urban provided a document he claimed was his degree. The committee saw it differently.
"Given that the committee has established beyond reasonable doubt that the member has not been awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours, [the document] can only and must necessarily be described as a forgery," committee chair and house Speaker Peter Watson told Parliament.

That forged document was also provided to other organisations in an illegal act, Mr Watson stated.
With five key claims made by Mr Urban both in Parliament and before the election all found to have been thoroughly debunked, the committee found the situation was beyond repair.
"The committee is of the view that the Member for Darling Range has demonstrated a pattern of serial dishonesty and deception for at least two decades," Mr Watson said.
"The committee does not consider that [Mr Urban] is the person he represented himself to be."