South Australia’s police commissioner has issued a statement which he says addresses factual inaccuracies over allegations of misconduct by a police inspector made in state parliament.

On Tuesday, independent MLC Frank Pangallo raised concerns in parliament about Inspector Wade Burns, who is the current deputy president of the Police Association of South Australia (PASA), regarding alleged “predatory behaviour” and the alleged sexual assault of a female police employee during a social function.

He told parliament Inspector Burns was the subject of complaints by colleagues in 2017 and was later demoted, but that Inspector Burns appealed and had his rank reinstated.

The comments by Mr Pangallo were made under parliamentary privilege.

In a statement on Friday, Commissioner Grant Stevens said after careful consideration he’s satisfied it’s a matter of public interest and he is obliged to correct the public record.

Grant Stevens has released a statement to “correct the public record” regarding comments made about Inspector Wade Burns.(ABC News: Ben Pettitt)

“Inspector Burns did not institute an appeal on grounds of his demotion. In 2020, (then) Senior Sergeant Burns lodged a Police Review Tribunal appeal, challenging a decision by a SAPOL Selection Advisory Committee not to promote him to the rank of Inspector. He was successful in his appeal and the tribunal ordered SAPOL to promote him to the rank of Inspector,” Commissioner Stevens said.

Mr Pangallo also claimed that Inspector Burns had been appointed the head of Project Equitas, “a program designed to combat sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and predatory behaviour in SA Police, following the disturbing findings of a review by the Equal Opportunity Commissioner”.

Commissioner Stevens said that was incorrect.

“Inspector Burns never held a position within Project Equitas,” the commissioner wrote.

He said an internal criminal investigation into the 2017 allegations was not referred for prosecution on the wishes of the alleged victim.

“I can confirm that, upon receipt of the relevant allegations in 2017, SAPOL’s Internal Investigation Section did commence a criminal investigation. Following the criminal investigation, after considering all relevant factors including, importantly, the wishes of the alleged victim, the matter was not referred for prosecution. Subsequently, a misconduct investigation was undertaken,” Commissioner Stevens said.

Inspector Burns this week was reported to have denied it was a criminal matter but Commissioner Stevens said it was not dishonest as he may not know an investigation had started.