It seems ridiculous that a former Minister of the Crown has been refused legal aid in NSW to defend his name after being found “allegedly”corrupt by the STAR CHAMBER known as the NSW ICAC. If they truly wanted the facts to become public, they would allow Ian MacDonald to be appropriately defended- but it seems to me they are scared of a real court ever hearing his case!!!!! WTF comment.
The criminal trial of former NSW Labor mining minister Ian Macdonald is at risk of being adjourned for an unknown period because he does not have enough money to pay up to $1.5 million for his defence.
Mr Macdonald, the subject of an adverse report by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, has been charged with misconduct in public office over his approval of a coal exploration licence for Doyles Creek Mining, a company chaired by former union official John Maitland. The trial is due to start on March 14, but the NSW Supreme Court will next week determine if it should be adjourned because Mr Macdonald has been denied legal aid, cannot afford to pay for a legal team and has been unable to obtain an ex gratia payment from Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton to cover his defence.
The case will have the practical impact of passing judgment not just on Mr Macdonald, but also on the procedures used by ICAC and the government’s decision to rely on those procedures when it destroyed millions of dollars in shareholder value by expropriating the Doyles Creek licence. This exposes the government to the risk that its denial of financial assistance for Mr Macdonald’s defence could be seen as a conflict of interest.
His trial could run for months and he will be facing a prosecution team that consists of a silk, a junior barrister, a solicitor and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. He has already been served with 50 volumes of material by the prosecution.
He filed a notice of motion with the Supreme Court last week seeking a temporary stay on proceedings until he can obtain enough money to defend himself. If he were given legal aid, an accompanying affidavit estimates he would need $252,000 to cover a four-month trial and a month for lawyers to prepare. If his defence were funded privately, his solicitors have estimated it would cost between $600,000 and $1.5m.
The affidavit says that if several consultancies go well, Mr Macdonald hopes to be in a position to pay for a legal team. He did not want a permanent stay on the criminal trial because he wanted to defend the charges and be acquitted. “If I am unable to secure representation I will have to attempt to defend myself personally in this matter,” the affidavit says.
Under a principle established by the High Court, the courts are empowered to adjourn criminal cases if they consider the accused will not be given a fair trial because of a lack of legal advice.
Misconduct in public office is a common law offence that can result in long terms of imprisonment. There is no maximum term.
If the case goes ahead, it will be closely followed by international and domestic investors who have been pressing the NSW government for millions in compensation because it cancelled the licence held by NuCoal Resources, which bought Doyle’s Creek Mining.
Mr Macdonald’s affidavit asserts that ICAC has obtained a significant amount of material, including some that he believes may support his defence, which has not been made public by the agency. “I will instruct my legal representatives once funds are available to have it subpoenaed so that it may be used at the trial,” the affidavit says.
The Australian 27th January 2016
WTF (used with permission)