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NSW ICAC to come under further scrutiny

Independent Commission Against Corruption Commissioner Megan Latham appears at a public hearing examining ICAC inspector David Levine's report regarding Operation Hale at state parliament in Sydney on Thursday, February 11. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Independent Commission Against Corruption Commissioner Megan Latham appears at a public hearing examining ICAC inspector David Levine’s report regarding Operation Hale at state parliament in Sydney on Thursday, February 11. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Stephanie Menezes, AAP

ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham will appear on Friday before a parliamentary inquiry looking into the investigation into crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, as pressure mounts against the NSW corruption watchdog.

In the past week, ICAC has been accused of abusing its powers, ruining a former SES commissioner’s life and using the media for its own self-promoting agenda.

The parliamentary committee is examining a scathing ICAC Inspector report which described the Cunneen investigation as ‘unreasonable’, ‘unjust and oppressive’.

Ms Latham claimed the report was fundamentally flawed, but Inspector David Levine defended his assessment on Monday.

He told the inquiry ICAC had tried to exploit and abuse its powers while conducting Operation Hale in 2014.

Mr Levine described Operation Hale as a ‘debacle’ and also pointed to the need for a stronger oversight body for the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The investigation centred around allegations Ms Cunneen perverted the course of justice by allegedly giving her son’s girlfriend advice to fake chest pains following a car accident.

ICAC was forced to abandon its investigation after the High Court ruled it was beyond the agency’s jurisdiction.

Ms Cunneen has consistently denied the allegations.

The top NSW silk launched a blistering attack on watchdogs such as ICAC during a private speech in NSW Parliament on Monday.

Government investigative bodies had ‘the ability through self-promoting media machines to inflict serious damage on the lives and reputations of individuals’, she said.

Such agencies were also ‘justifying their existence by condemning the presumed innocent in the media’, she argued.

Former State Emergency Service commissioner Murray Kear on Thursday accused ICAC of ‘ruining his life’ after he was cleared of criminal charges brought on by an ICAC inquiry.

He urged Premier Mike Baird to look into the actions of ICAC as he was just one ‘in a line of other people’ who had not been treated fairly by the besieged agency.


One response to “NSW ICAC to come under further scrutiny”

  1. Chris Seymour says:

    The powers given to all these special agencies needs to be tempered by strong oversight. Our small business was investigated by the ACCC a few years ago and they used the same intimidatory tactics used by the ICAC. We were completely innocent of the charges, but they kept investigating and it cost us $200,000 of our badly needed capital. When we pointed out that the same restrictive agreements they accused us of, and of which we were innocent, were being used by two of our very large competitors, they just laughed.

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