Commissioner Megan Latham refused to meet ICAC inspector David Levine to answer questions about the bungled investigation into prosecutor Margaret Cunneen.
The Australian can reveal Mr Levine, a former Supreme Court judge, sought the meeting with Ms Latham while compiling his report into ICAC’s pursuit of Ms Cunneen, which involved Ms Latham allegedly leaking damning private text messages found on Ms Cunneen’s mobile phone to her boss, Director of Public Prosecutions Lloyd Babb.
Mr Levine confirmed to The Australian that Ms Latham had refused the meeting request.
“What you’ve asked me is whether I suggested a meeting and whether it took place. Yes, I did; and it did not take place,” Mr Levine said. “No meeting took place. It simply didn’t happen.”
ICAC and Ms Latham did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Mr Levine’s functions and powers, as set out in Part 51 of the ICAC Act, state that he may require ICAC officers to appear before him to answer questions.
Shooters and Fishers Party MP Robert Borsak questioned how the public could have confidence in an organisation that was not accountable to its own inspector. Mr Borsak said it was a disgrace that Ms Latham did not meet with the inspector.
“It’s a clear indication of the lack of accountability of the commissioner and the management of the ICAC,” he said.
“You can have absolutely no confidence in not only the organisation but in the leadership of the commissioner.”
Mr Borsak said if Ms Latham had found legal grounds to refuse to meet Mr Levine then the ICAC Act needed “major modifications to bring the star chamber into an accountable position”.
“Even the commissioner of police is accountable to the premier, so who is she accountable to?” he said.
Mr Levine launched an inquiry into ICAC’s Cunneen investigation in November last year and NSW Premier Mike Baird is awaiting its completion. Mr Levine said it would be handed to parliament on Friday.
When the High Court ruled ICAC’s investigation of Ms Cunneen to be invalid, Ms Latham urged the DPP to pursue criminal charges against Ms Cunneen, issuing a press release recommending this course of action.
The Australian revealed that ICAC leaked Ms Cunneen’s private text messages in which she was critical of Mr Babb’s performance in an appeal case.
The text messages were sent years earlier and were not relevant to the scope of ICAC’s inquiry into Ms Cunneen, which centred on advice she was alleged to have given her son’s girlfriend after a car accident.
ICAC inspectors seized Ms Cunneen’s mobile phone using a Notice to Produce document, authorised by Ms Latham.
A week later, ICAC applied for a search warrant to seize a mobile phone that was already in its possession. Registrar Stephen Lister granted the warrant.
The Australian has attempted to obtain the documents relating to the authorisation of the search warrant, but ICAC has placed a secrecy provision on the papers.
Sharri Markson, Senior Writer for The Australian.
(WTF) Used with permission