New email scandal within Army 'worse than Skype scandal'

THE Australian Defence Force has been engulfed in a new scandal, involving explicit material sent via email between senior officers, Chief of Army Lieutenant-General David Morrison revealed on Thursday.

Lt-Gen Morrison said three army personnel had been suspended so far, with five more under consideration and a further nine yet to be considered.

He said high-ranking officers including a Lieutenant-Colonel, Majors, Captains and Warrant Officers were now under investigation.

Lt-Gen Morrison said he was particularly concerned because some of the men involved had been in the Defence Force for in excess of 10 years.

A further 90 Defence Force personnel across the country were also found to be "on the periphery" of the investigation, but had not yet been directly implicated.

"There is no place for this behaviour in our Army, and in a Defence Force that prides itself on teamwork, courage and respect, and where women and men work alongside each other as colleagues and professionals," Lt-Gen Morrison said.

"It brings the Australian Army into disrepute and betrays all those whose service has established its enviable status among our citizens.

"I am, of course, cognisant of the need to keep an open mind and to let the evidence speak in regard to how these men are dealt with, but I view the allegations that are being made in the gravest light."

Lt-Gen Morrison said the matter was "worse than the Skype scandal", referring to the both the number and seniority of people involved.

Emails dating back to 2010 were now being assessed as part of the extensive investigation, Lt-Gen Morrison said.

He said Defence Minister Stephen Smith was informed of the investigation, as were other senior government officials, after it came to his attention in April this year.

While he could not give details of the material involved, Lt-Gen Morrison variously described the material as demeaning, denigrating and repugnant.

Lt-Gen Morrison said he could not detail whether the material was of a sexual or violent nature, but that there was a suspicion of references to illicit drugs.

He said it was clear the problems within the military regarding women were "systemic", and the leadership of the Force "no longer accepts the bad apple argument".

The Defence Force Investigative Service and the New South Wales Police will continue investigating the issue.

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