The President of the Rule of Law Institute, Robin Speed, has been an active participant in the NSW Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into ICAC and the ICAC Inspector’s report to the Premier earlier this year, drawing the committee’s attention to the case of former SES commissioner Murray Kear.
The inquiry has received written submissions from a variety of parties, and has heard further testimony from some, including the ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham, the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Lloyd Babb SC, and Mr Speed.
This testimony has raised three important issues:
1. Conflict of evidence
The Institute considers that Ms Latham and Mr Babb should be recalled by the Committee to be given the opportunity to explain the serious conflict between their evidence and whether they misled the Committee.
Ms Latham stated to the Committee:
“All I can tell you is, without reservation, all of that material was known to Mr Kear and it was provided to the DPP within the context of exhibits one and two.”
Mr Babb stated that ICAC’s two volumes of material was disclosed in response to a subpoena obtained by Mr Kear’s lawyers. It included 28 statements and notes and emails by ICAC investors, and:
“Of this material, only one of the statements had previously been provided to the ODPP by the ICAC.”
2. Failure of Ms Latham to explain why ICAC did not obtain a statement from a material witness
The Institute considers that Ms Latham should be recalled to explain to the Committee why ICAC did not interview a material witness, Peter Clarke and obtain a statement from him and provide that to the DPP.
She failed to do so when appearing before the Committee and this was a significant part of the Magistrate’s reasoning in ordering costs.
3. Ms Latham’s claim that the second corruption finding against Mr Kear was not challenged
The Institute considers that Mr Kear should be called by the Committee to be given the opportunity to respond to Ms Latham’s statement that the second corruption finding was not challenged.
The Institute calls on the committee to clarify these issues. The Committee should consider appointing Senior Counsel to be Counsel Assisting when Ms Latham and Mr Babb appear. This will not prevent the Committee members from asking questions and will really focus the answers.