Sydney silk Geoffrey Watson SC has denied exercising any power when he was counsel assisting for the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. Mr Watson has told the NSW Supreme Court he was simply performing a function when he was ICAC’s counsel assisting and was required to carry out that function according to the instructions of former ICAC commissioner David Ipp and, where applicable, the ICAC Act. But he denies that the ICAC Act conferred any power upon him when he was the commission’s counsel assisting.
Mr Watson’s views are outlined in his defence to civil litigation that accuses him of misfeasance in public office when ICAC was investigating former state politician Eddie Obeid and his family. The plaintiffs in the case are Mr Obeid, his sons Eddie Obeid Jr, Moses Obeid and Paul Obeid. They are suing Mr Watson, Mr Ipp, ICAC, the state of NSW, and ICAC officers Grant Lockley, Paul Grainger and Darren Curd. They want the Supreme Court to declare that ICAC’s report from an inquiry known as Operation Jasper was not made according to law and is a nullity. They also want general damages, aggravated damages, special damages, exemplary damages, interest and costs. They have accused the commission of mishandling evidence and suppressing exculpatory material that could have been used to challenge the credibility of certain witnesses. Mr Watson and the other respondents deny liability. His defence, which was filed with the Supreme Court on February 12, says he denies the allegation from the Obeids that he was empowered by the ICAC Act to assist the ICAC commissioner to exercise his powers properly.
And while Mr Watson’s defence says he was required to perform his function in accordance with his instructions and, where applicable, the ICAC Act, it says he does not admit the accusation from the Obeids that he was required to exercise his powers honestly, fairly, impartially, in good faith and for their proper purpose. While Mr Watson’s defence says he was bound to exercise his functions in accordance with the NSW barrister’s rules, Mr Ipp’s defence denies it was the former commissioner’s responsibility to ensure Mr Watson complied with those rules.
The Australian 2016. (WTF) Used with permission.