by: Chris Merritt, Legal Affairs Editor, The Australian, November 13, 2015.
Businessman John Kinghorn has just joined an elite club: the innocent victims of the NSW government’s Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Like prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC and fellow businessman Andrew Poole, Mr Kinghorn was wrongly accused by ICAC of crime and corruption and had his reputation trashed.
But like the club’s two other members, he went to court, exposed ICAC’s errors and won a ruling last week from the NSW Court of Appeal that prevents ICAC challenging his exoneration.
It cost him $1.3 million in legal fees, most of which will be recouped from ICAC which has been ordered to pay his costs.
But despite his exoneration, ICAC continues to publish on its website its original report containing allegations that, according to the Supreme Court, are “a nullity”.
“It’s the Googling that is upsetting,” he said.
“If you Google me all you’ll get is The Sydney Morning Herald articles about ICAC finding me corrupt and it’s still on the ICAC website,” Mr Kinghorn said.
The continued publication of discredited findings has also annoyed Mr Poole.
He wants the agency’s independent inspector to be vested with the power to order the deletion of reports that are shown to be wrong.
Online access to ICAC’s flawed report about Mr Poole forced him to resign from a company board in Singapore.
He said he can no longer open a bank account in that country.
Mr Kinghorn, 74, who is the founder of Rams Home Loans, has also felt the effects of the dissemination of a flawed ICAC report. Before he was exonerated, he had all four of his car tyres slashed by someone who left multiple calling cards — stickers proclaiming: “I love ICAC.”
He also felt compelled to resign from Sydney’s Elanora Golf Club because of the way he was treated.
“I left the club because there were people I thought were friends for years and years who were all giggling and carrying on behind my back,” he said.
“Like all things, it’s your good friends who support you through these things.”
Things were very different at the Australian Golf Club where he said members were very supportive and gave little credence to ICAC.
While Mr Poole would be satisfied with having his adverse report removed, Mr Kinghorn wants more.
“They should publish something on their website that says, in layman’s terms, “We got it wrong. This person is not corrupt’,” he said.
As for The Sydney Morning Herald, he cancelled it years ago, along with The Australian Financial Review.
(WTF) used with permission.