Former ICAC commissioner David Ipp has warned The Australian that publication of allegations against him that are being considered by ICAC Inspector Bruce McClintock SC would be defamatory.
Those allegations are outlined in a complaint that has been lodged with Mr McClintock by businessmen John McGuigan and Richard Poole and associated companies.
Mr Ipp’s warning has been outlined in a statement that was prepared on his behalf by Geoffrey Watson SC, who was ICAC’s Counsel Assisting during the events covered by Mr McGuigan’s complaint.
“If you repeat any of the allegations made by McGuigan and Poole, your words will be defamatory,” the statement says.
“No privilege attaches to a complaint made to the Inspector. Your repetition of the allegations will be a republication of the defamation.
“Taking into account the history of your reporting on these matters, an inference of malice on your part is clearly open.”
The statement was supplied by Mr Watson after The Australian provided Mr Ipp and ICAC with a summary of the complaint and invited them to provide a response.
The statement prepared by Mr Watson makes it clear that the ICAC inspector is dealing with a complaint about Mr Ipp that alleges impropriety in the way he conducted ICAC proceedings.
The statement also shows that the inspector has been asked to examine allegations of impropriety between Mr Ipp and the NSW government that have already been the subject of court proceedings.
It says “the principal complainants, McGuigan and Poole, are corrupt persons” and says ICAC’s findings of corruption against them have been confirmed by the NSW Supreme Court, the NSW Court of Appeal and the High Court.
The statement does not mention that in 2015 ICAC reached agreement with Mr McGuigan and Mr Poole that its corruption findings had not been made according to law and were a nullity.
Before the NSW Court of Appeal could issue orders giving effect to that agreement the NSW government approved retrospective legislation validating those findings (see accompanying article).
The statement Mr Watson prepared for Mr Ipp says the matters raised in the complaint have already been considered and rejected on at least three occasions.
“First, a complaint that there was some impropriety between David and the NSW Government was considered and rejected by Hoeben J in Duncan v Ipp … and by the NSW Court of Appeal.
“The High Court of Australia rejected a special leave application in relation to those proceedings.
“Secondly, an allegation of impropriety in the conduct of the proceedings was raised by Eddie Obeid — and was considered and rejected by Hammerschlag J in Obeid v Ipp
“In a separate costs judgment the allegations against David were described as ‘unmaintainable’ and ‘irresponsible’.
“Thirdly, an identical complaint has already been made by McGuigan and Poole to the previous Inspector of ICAC, David Levine, on 4 June, 2015. David Levine failed to deal with it.
“So, it can be seen, multiple judicial officers have already considered and rejected the substance of the complaint,” the statement prepared for Mr Ipp says.
The material that has been supplied to the ICAC inspector is contained in a nine-page document that is accompanied by two schedules of particulars and supporting documents. It outlines correspondence in 2012 and 2013, while the Jasper inquiry was under way, between ICAC and the NSW government. Schedule one of the complaint refers to the operation of the rule of law during the Jasper inquiry and notes last year’s changes to the ICAC Act concerning the disclosure of exculpatory evidence and cross-examining witnesses as to their credibility.
Legal Affairs Editor – The Australian
(WTF) – used with permission