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Western Australian police officer is fired for defying Covid vaccine mandate

The Western Australia Police Force has sacked a veteran officer more than two years after he refused to comply with a Covid vaccine mandate.

Lance French, who served on the force for 27 years, was dismissed on June 17 after facing disciplinary proceedings in November 22 and March this year and being convicted on May 31.

Mr French received a letter from Commissioner of Police Col Branch informing him of the dismissal which he shared on social media.

“Between 2 December 2021 and 9 June 2022 you disobeyed a lawful order and without good and sufficient cause failed to carry out that lawful order, by not complying with a direction issued by Commissioner Dawson on 24 November 2021 requiring you to have at least one COVID-19 vaccination by 1 December 2021 and provide evidence of your COVID-19 vaccination or a valid exemption,” the letter stated.

The letter also listed charged against Mr French for “improperly using his position” as a police officer by helping manage a GoFundMe. An online fundraiser co-organised by Mr French’s wife Adele to overturn vaccine mandates, which helped support legal challenges against WA Police over the forced injections.

On April 30, Senior Constable Ben Falconer and public service officer Leslie Finlay lost their final appeal against the direction, with a court finding that although it curtailed human rights and amounted to coercion, the original judge was correct in saying the mandate was justified due to “extraordinary” circumstances.

After the decision WA Police said in a statement: “The Falconer and Finlay appeal against the WA Police Commissioner’s direction to be vaccinated has been dismissed.

“The court confirmed the direction to get vaccinated, which was given to police officers and police staff, was lawful.

“Disciplinary action against 12 serving police officers and five police staff will now resume.”

Mr French responded to his dismissal by writing on X: “After reflecting on this for some time, and going through all the thoughts and emotions today, a profound realisation landed in my mind, that is – I am grateful.”

He went on to thank those members of the public and his colleagues that supported the legal challenges, but said the appeal result had left him concerned about the state of the legal system.

“The ominous appeal outcome is an important one to consider – and while I strongly disagree with it, my gratitude is to our forefathers who set about constructing the legal framework utilised during this fight,” he wrote.

“Ultimately (and some will say predictably) we were unsuccessful, but a sobering thought is that if we were in another country and tried to disobey an order such as this, we might have found ourselves in prison or worse.

“While our legal framework allowed us to fight this time, I believe this framework, like any long-standing structure, runs the risk of suffering a lack of maintenance. It is my opinion that the trajectory we are heading (as a society) is not good.”

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