Police have launched an investigation into the public brawl between billionaire James Packer and Nine boss David Gyngell as a result of concerns raised by the public.
But investigators deny they’ve been slow to act on the brawl and say they will investigate whether the stoush constitutes an offence of assault or affray.
Police on Wednesday confirmed they had contacted legal representatives for both men to request interviews, but insisted the two brawlers would not be compelled to attend.
The decision to move forward with an investigation comes amid community concern over public violence following a string of assaults that have left victims dead or severely injured, and which prompted the introduction of tough laws targeting so-called one-punch attacks.
But NSW Acting Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton said that while the bust-up outside Packer’s Bondi mansion on Sunday “may constitute assault and affray”, police would not escalate the investigation just because of the high profiles of both men.
“We have had contact through a legal adviser indicating if they wish to indicate anything to us, come and see us, they’re welcome to do so,” he said.
“We have made the approach … there’s no compulsion for anyone to be interviewed in these circumstances.”
He said heavy watermarking on photos of the fight had also delayed police action.
The photos, taken by photographer Brendan Beirne, were bought by News Corp Australia for a reported $210,000 and published on Monday.
The media company initially plastered watermarks all over the exclusive images on its websites, which show a furious Packer being restrained as he tries to hurl punches at Gyngell.
“The early material was so difficult to see what was going on because of the branding of it,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Walton said.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting the police to rush out there.”
Photos published in Tuesday’s newspapers appeared without watermarks.
Mr Beirne, who provided a witness statement during a two-hour visit to Bondi police station on Wednesday morning, later said he had complied with a police request to hand over some 300 photographs taken during the fight.
He said neither Packer nor Gyngell made bids for the photos to keep them off the market.
“I’m an impartial witness so I don’t take any sides. From my point of view, it’s just a couple of mates who had a falling out, a bit of a biffo,” Mr Beirne told News Corp Australia.