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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Security company blasts “cruel” guard sex claims

The security company widely blamed for sparking Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19 says the “cruel and salacious” rumours linking its guards to the outbreak have done “untold damage” to its reputation and the broader security industry.

“One of the most disappointing stories in this debate has been the totally unverified, unsourced rumour that a guard had sex with a guest,” a senior spokesperson for Unified Security exclusively told www.australianseniorsnews.com.au

“It is a cruel and salacious rumour that has done untold damage to the entire security industry and the security staff who hard work every day to help keep people safe.”

The rumour sparked a media frenzy last month when the Herald Sun first claimed a hotel security guard had “inappropriate relations” with a traveller in quarantine in Melbourne – with an onslaught of reporting then claiming the guard was effectively ‘patient zero’ of the deadly second COVID wave to hit the state.

The report prompted the shutdown of the government’s hotel quarantine program and by 30 July an inquiry was underway.

Then came the news via emails leaked to the press that a male night manager at Rydges Hotel – one of several quarantine hotel sites in Melbourne – had tested positive to coronavirus back on 25 May.

“It is pleasing to see that our guards have been cleared of the wrong and unfair blame for the Victorian outbreak,” Unified Security management said.

“Our staff worked hard for 15 weeks and did the best job they could in challenging circumstances.”

Unified Security said the rumours had proved costly for the company, its reputation and its staff, who had been rocked by the claims.

“No information has ever surfaced about who, when or where this was alleged to have happened, despite offers by some journalists to pay guards to go on the record anonymously.”

“They have been maligned in the media without any basis for causing the outbreak when in fact they were victims of it like everyone else.”

Unified Security also maintains that regardless of who was first infected, security guards were never in charge of the quarantine hotels or the infection control procedures within them.

“That responsibility always lay with the Authorised Officer appointed to each hotel,” it said.

“We look forward to the upcoming Inquiry and trust it will provide the facts and transparency that the Victorian public need and deserve.”

An inquiry into the quarantine program was announced last month, with hearings resuming today with former judge, Jennifer Coate, at the helm.

Today the inquiry heard there was a lack of clear accountability reporting by government agencies, with evidence provided that the program was set up in just 48 hours.

“There is material suggesting that for some participants in the program it was not clear who was the overall command of the operation,” said counsel assisting the inquiry, Tony Neal, QC.

Two hotels linked with coronavirus outbreaks – Rydges on Swanston and Stamford Plaza – have been put on notice to appear, along with Travelodge Melbourne, Park Royal Hotel Melbourne Airport, Holiday Inn Melbourne and Four Points Sheraton.

The eight security companies of interest to the inquiry are Wilson Security, United Risk Management, Unified Security Group, Ultimate Protection Services, MSS security, Elite Protection Services, Australian Protection Group and Security Hub.

Medical experts, hotel staff and returned travellers who stayed in quarantine will also be called to give evidence.

“I expect no less than full, frank and timely cooperation from all government entities and persons to enable me to do my job for the people of Victoria,” Justice Coate said.

Hotel quarantine supervision is currently being provided by Corrections Victoria and Victoria Police, replacing the private guards who previously provided the function under contracts with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.

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