Megan Latham at the NSW Parliamentary Committee into ICAC

Posted on March 18, 2016

4


Coming into the Macquarie Room I saw ICAC Inspector David Levine outside and then he sat at the back of the public gallery.

image

Two photographers were behind the committee the whole time, mainly taking photos of ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham.

At the centre sat the Committee Chair of the joint committee and Liberal Party member for Epping Damien Tudehope. Adam Marshall, National Party MP sat next to him.

On the left side:

Kathy Smith, ALP LA
Tania Mihailuk, ALP LA
Ron Hoenig, ALP LA, member for Heffron
The Hon Lynda Voltz, ALP LC
Rev the Hon Fred Nile, LC

On the right:
4 men including
Mark Taylor, Liberal Party LA
Chris Patterson, Liberal Party LA
The Hon Kevin Humphries, National Party LA

The Hon Trevor Khan, National Party LC
then 2 women

I sat at the front row on the left.

“It’s really hard to tweet, the reception’s terrible in here,” Sharri Markson said, in the front row of the public gallery.
John Lyons @thelyonsden next to me with his laptop open, tweeting.

Sitting next to two Murdoch media journalists from The Australian, I attempted to provide some balance on a day when Fairfax was on strike.

The Honorable Commissioner Megan Latham walks in, files in hand. Olive satin dress and gold satin patterned jacket.

image
To her left Roy Waldon, Solicitor to the Commission and Executive Directive of the Legal Division.

Witnesses are sworn in again.
Megan Latham takes an oath not an affirmation.
Quietly spoken.
To her right is Sharon Loder, Executive Director of Investigation Division and then Dr Robert Waldersee, Executive Director of Corruption Prevention Division.

“Members of the public may be asked to leave the room.”

Tudehope:
“11th Feb adjourned to obtain legal advice about telephone intercept material
The committee resolved to accept the advice that they do not publish the material submitted to then and listened to by them
Provided advice from counsel supporting the contention that the committee was not prohibited from hearing the advice
Committee prohibited from publishing that material
He quoted the crown solicitor’s advice.

Hearing Damien Tudehope speak, he sounds intelligent, but I can’t separate him in my mind from paedophile priest Finian Egan. Also as the former chief-of-staff of former NSW Attorney General Greg Smith when the NSW Special Commission employed Margaret Cunneen as its Special Commissioner. As well as being Opus Dei.
He will not reviewing the Cunneen matter except ‘in camera’. This committee is not about reinvestigating the material, it is the inspector’s report.
Tudehope about the audio: “It was an ambush of this committee and probably something that should not have happened.”
Megan Latham: “It was never the commission’s position to produce the material to publish that material
I tendered the material to the committee for the purposes of …
To see whether the bases of the report
Is the committee suggesting that they will not use the transcript of the intercept to determine whether the findings
Or leave all that material to one side
Because if it’s the latter I am out in an invidious position
If this committee is an inquiry into the inspector’s report
That is the basis upon which he makes that assessment”

The Hon Trevor Khan:

The Hon Lynda Voltz: “matters raised in the opening statement which goes to the crux of that issue.”

The Hon Trevor Khan: “the commissioner is invited to make an opening statement”

Megan Latham: “there is an important difference between the use of the material for the purposes of the inquiry and publication of that material.”
Opening statement:
“There can now be no dispute that the commission was denied procedural fairness.
Quotes Levine on Monday. Actual bias. Some of the language was shenanigans, grotesquery …
Before the committee accepts the report, the committee should take into account
There is now no dispute the commission should have held a preliminary investigation. Courts.
There is no evidence to support that …
In fact the evidence is that the ICAC officers informed Ms Cunneen informed her .. Entered her home .. On the premises
The material on her phone …
Ms Cunneen claimed privilege on the content of the phones.
Would undermine the public’s confidence and its ability to inquire without fear or favour.
I have a further 15 page submission which amplifies the matter.”

The Hon Trevor Khan: “I have real difficulty with material received in this matter.”
He is very strong and aggressive with strong opinions.

The Hon Lynda Voltz: “I’m entitled to a point of order.” She’s strong.
“I’ve never heard of people not being able to table material.”
In response to Levine’s report.

Tudehope: “I propose to receive the material without it being tabled.”

The Hon Lynda Voltz: “Levine stated that it’s a trivial matter.”

Megan Latham: “You occupy that matter 24/7.”

The Hon Lynda Voltz: “would any ordinary mother expect that an AG would contact a witness.”

Megan Latham: “the witness was referred to us”

The Hon Lynda Voltz: “you think it would be normal for an AG to contact a …?”

Trevor Khan: Aggressive man again.

The Hon Lynda Voltz: “I have never heard that an AG has ever provided a phone number of a person being investigated by ICAC.”

Trevor Khan: “You’re making a mockery of this.”

The Hon Lynda Voltz: “You’re making a mockery of this. You’re the one that won’t let information out there.”

I forget who said this: “You had a close personal relationship with Ms Cunneen. Do you think it was fair of the inspector to put that in the report.”

Megan Latham: “Procedural fairness…
In the report he describes my relationship as a close personal relationship. Had the inspector spoken to me about it I would have pointed out that I was appointed in 1987. From 1994 onwards I wasn’t at the DPP to the office of the AG until my appointment as crown advocate. What the inspector has written is not informed.”

Megan Latham: “I don’t think the inspector knows as much as my professional development as I do.

“It was not lawful of us to distribute that material to anyone else.
The inspector has now said we were entitled to hold a preliminary inquiry, not to refer it to police.”

Fred Nile sitting next to woman remarkably quiet.

Tudehope: “You could have written to the ACC and said there is a matter for police. And that’s the thrust of what the inspector’s saying isn’t it.”

Megan Latham is extremely polite and quietly spoken. The tone of voice is important in these highly charged situations.

The Hon Lynda Voltz: “he could elaborate on that for operational reasons.”

Megan Latham: “There are reasons why that material wasn’t disseminated to police for reasons that I will tell the committee in a private session.”

Megan Latham said she did not pass on sensitive recordings and SMSs to police for good reason, but those reasons would need to be told in private.???
Megan Latham told the committee that #icac “wasn’t at liberty” to easily pass the ACC phone taps of Cunneen onto NSW police. Why?
Which senior NSW Police officers is/was Margaret Cunneen close to? The Australian Crime Commission indicated that they had by-passed NSW Police, fearing that Cunneen was too close to senior officers.

Man on the right: “it was a one off incident wasn’t it.”

Megan Latham: “the preliminary investigation was capable of supporting .. The scope and purpose of the investigation.”

Man on the right: Obviously very abrasive and supporting Cunneen.
“A public official involved in a one off alleged criminal act.”

Megan Latham: “if that public official was of some power and influence and that person was discovered shop lifting … If there was some exchange of conversation and on the basis of that the person was allowed to walk free …
Because it indicates the abuse of power and authority to avoid a criminal … Influenced another public official”

There is a very big conflict between Trevor Khan and this strong woman The Hon Linda Voltz. He doesn’t appear to want to be influenced by her.

The Hon Lynda Voltz: “the commissioner cannot reveal all the details”

Megan Latham: “The officers deliberately and wilfully .. The act.”

I find her very wise, calm and emotionally rational. I like her.

Trevor Khan seems emotionally charged and so does Mark Taylor, the man in the pale blue tie.

Megan Latham calmly defends herself about “serious or systemic before we investigate.”
I feel safe with the ICAC in her hands.

“Sometimes those decisions can’t be made until a preliminary investigation is conducted. What seems small on the surface … I can give examples.”

As I look around I can’t help wondering if any of the Honorables on this committee will end up being investigated by ICAC and sit on the cross benches.

Megan Latham: “we regarded it as sufficiently serious to require.
Serious corrupt conduct and systemic corrupt conduct. That’s always been the way it’s been interpreted.”

ICAC man Robert Waldersee, Corruption Prevention Division.
“What was in my mind is what is that report. We act as a board and a healthy board will have differing views. My value judgment at the time is what is stated there.”

Megan Latham: “we have very robust and lengthy discussions when we sit as a strategic investigations group. It is a very robust discussion.”

Trevor Khan: “I’m sometimes in a minority where you’ve just been unsuccessful in convincing your colleagues.”

Robert: “I would have thought that’s a sign of a healthy executive. We’re not under pressure to conform.”

I don’t like the way the man in the pale blue tie speaks, Taylor. It sounds mean and narrow.

Megan Latham sounds open and nice.
“The expertise around me is first class and the practices and procedures we follow give us the best possible outcome.”

Fred Nile: “I understand how boards work. Did you have a leading role in those decisions?”

Megan Latham: “no ultimately the decisions we make are the result of the commissioner. I take into account the executive.”

Fred Nile: “animosity towards Ms Cunneen.”

Megan Latham: “I didn’t have any reason to feel personally disposed or otherwise towards Ms Cunneen. In 1986 when I was head of child sexual assault prosecution, there was a period of 9 months when Ms Cunneen worked in that division.”

Fred Nile: “was there any conflict during that time?”

Megan Latham: “no, not at all.”

Ron Hoenig: “say the committee’s view that we don’t agree with the inspector’s view of triviality?”

Megan Latham: “No weight should be placed on the findings. If the process is not fair then the conclusions can’t be relied upon. If you can’t place any weight on the findings then they can’t form any cause or affect.”

Ron Hoenig: “you can get the information from the telcos.”

Megan Latham: “under the telephones and interceptions act. In relation to telephone content, the telco companies don’t keep that material for much longer than a week. You have to get the messages from the phone.”

Ron Hoenig: “you weren’t precluded from conducting an investigating. Warrant There is an argument whether it was lawful or unlawful. Why wouldn’t the commission ensure that there was going to be an argument ….”

Megan Latham: “When the commission decided that the matter was worthy of a preliminary investigation we had to see if there was further information on the phones that would determine whether it was necessary to go any further. What that search warrant does is it allows you to enter and seize without consent. A notice to produce is for production of an item … We made an operational decision that a notice to produce. Neighbours of produce would have had 6 ICAC officers with ICAC vests on at 6am outside her house. It would have been more disruptive and more embarrassing.

We have policies and procedures that govern … Early in the morning. Because you want to ensure that items are on the premises. We would’ve missed the opportunity to produce the item. When we execute search warrants on premises we want to avoid the situation where someone on the street thinks there’s some unauthorised entry on a street. The notice to produce was a very low key unobtrisive way to get access to the phones to determine where he there was anything we needed to pursue. All it was was a couple of people knock on the door and asked to come in.
There was a legal basis for producing the search warrant. There was material on the phone that was worthy of being pursued.
We had the items we wanted for the purposes of the search warrant.”

Trevor Khan with the ego: “I’ve read this up and down.”

The Hon Lynda Voltz: “can we move on rather than you grand standing?”
Very accurate.

Ron Hoenig: “you had witnesses to be interviewed, chronology of the accident, if you add that to the content of the phone, would you then proceed to the DPP rather then public hearings. Am I missing something?”

Megan Latham: “the DPP had its own problems in relation to conflict. There was a problem in relation to that because she was from that organisation. The DPP is a prosecutorial organisation … I anticipate that what we handed to the DPP would not have been complete and then we’re back to the original problem.”

Ron Hoenig: “whatever you make of this material is a jury question isn’t it?”

Megan Latham: “ultimately it would have been yes.”

Ron Hoenig: “I just want to know at the time you decided to proceed was there anything missing that would prevent the solicitor general”

Megan Latham: “the public inquiry process is not a hearing … It’s actually part of the investigation.
The public inquiry process promotes the production of other witnesses. The public inquiry is a dynamic process and we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Fred Nile: “you didn’t want to send anything to the DPP.”
He’s always defending Cunneen and concerned about her embarrassment.

Megan Latham: “ICAC allows us to refer material to a public agency. disciplinary behaviour. Officers of the DPP with the press, the confidentiality officers have at any time. We understood what the code of conduct said. We referred it to the DPP.”

Fred Nile: “Did you realise the disruption it would cause?”

Megan Latham: “it had to do with the confidentiality of the information she was transmitting. That’s why we sent it to him.”

Ron Hoenig: “A crown prosecutor has limited tenure .. To speak out on matters without fear or favour. Are you considering it was beyond publicly communicating with journalists”

Megan Latham: “the information was what was beyond public knowledge. For example if she was the crown prosecutor in a particular trial …”

Trevor Khan: “why did you produce the media release which made reference to proceedings?”

Megan Latham: “a media release necessary for explaining publicly for being accountable for the decisions we make.”

Trevor Khan: “there had been no public hearing that might be described as a public shaming.”

Fred Nile joins in and agrees with Trevor Khan. It is clear now who is blocking the release of the material publicly. The men defending Margaret Cunneen. Why? What’s in it for them politically?

Trevor Khan: “Did you help draft that media release?”

Megan Latham: “I have a media liaison officer.” She is getting annoyed with Mr Khan’s interjections. She finds him rude.

Megan Latham: “I approve every decision the commission makes.”

Break.

image

 

Man at back: “The nature of your relationship with the inspector Levine”

Latham: “if the members of the committee look at the correspondence that shows there is no evidence of … We have given him”

Man at back: “How would you characterise your relationship?”

Megan Latham: “I don’t understand what the problem is. What I’m trying to convey is, I do not have any antagonism towards the inspector, it seems to be the other way.”

He seems extremely rude.
“Why haven’t you met?”

Megan Latham: “there’s never been any request for a meeting and there’s never been any need for a meeting.”

This committee is dominated by legal men. Only one woman on the committee is vocal and thankfully Megan Latham.

Megan Latham: “The inspector does not have any professional respect for me. It’s coming from him.”

Trevor Khan: “it’s like a marriage.”

Megan Latham defends herself well, against all the nasty things inspector Levine said about her on Monday. She quotes a list of the nasty things he said about her.

@TrevorKhan1 said, “it’s like a marriage.” In some marriages one person is verbally abusive and the other does nothing to warrant abuse. If it is like a marriage, and I was Megan Latham hearing David Levine’s verbal abuse, I would pack my bags and get a divorce.

On Monday, the Inspector of the ICAC and the PIC, David Levine, said that it’s OK to do what Margaret Cunneen did. He declared Ms Cunneen had done “no more than what any ordinary member of the community as a mother would do upon learning of a motor accident involving her son’s girlfriend”.

Nationals MP Kevin Humphries seems very reasonable and talks about conflict resolution between Levine and Latham. I like his voice.
Then he says, “I don’t think any mother’s normal but anyway…” That was weird and disrespectful towards mothers.

Megan Latham: “It’s not a view of mine, it’s a principle. Anyone who holds a position in the administration of justice should be accountable. It’s not just a personal view, this is one of the pro increments in the case of Einfeld, he wasn’t a judge. Responsible for the administration of justice. The principle stretches long before Einfeld.”

Trevor Khan is defending inspector Levine vehemently.

Humphries: “Would you follow the same process again regarding the Cunneen matter?”

Megan Latham: “yes we follow procedures.”

No one is discussing Margaret Cunneen’s political affiliations, which are obviously on the Right ie the Liberal Party. We have a committee of Labor members on the left and Lib Nats on the Right of the room. They are arguing down party lines. With Nile is sitting on the left defending Cunneen.
It’s just not appropriate to be doing a parliamentary committee this way, given Margaret Cunneen’s clear public political persuasion. She recently spoke at a Mosman Liberal Party meeting. We need members of the judiciary who are required to be impartial, to examine this matter.

Damien Tudehope is concerned about reputational damage to people. Cunneen in this matter. I think the committee should state their politics.

Damien Tudehope is accusing Megan Latham of apprehended bias and conflict of interest. Give us a break. Damien Tudehope tell us about your conflicts of interest. Finian Egan? The Catholic Church? You look like a complete hypocrite.

The Hon Lynda Holtz supported Megan Latham about how she didn’t have coffees with Inspector Levine. This committee has only confirmed my impression that the NSW parliament is a boys club. If ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham was a man, would she be under this intense scrutiny? I see nothing wrong with the way she has carried out her job. In fact from seeing her in person I am impressed with her career and the way she conducted herself professionally. She deserves our support, unlike some of the men and one woman involved in this inquiry.

ICAC Inspector David Levine is required to be impartial.
“The Inspector is accountable to a bi-partisan parliamentary committee known as the Parliamentary Committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption (the Committee). The ICAC also reports to this Committee.”
http://www.oiicac.nsw.gov.au/inspectors-accountability/
Are the committee members *cough* impartial? They’re asking Liberal, Labor and National Party MPs to be impartial? They may as well ask me to be a man.
All the men on the right side were Libs or Nats. I had no idea who they were. So many MLCs moved to the cross benches because of ICAC and some of these men have replaced them.
It is so interesting that I predicted their politics without knowing which party they are in.

My questions would be to Inspector Levine and why he is so disrespectful of Commissioner Latham.
Outside the committee room, I asked ICAC Inspector David Levine what his opinion of ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham is. He paused for quite a while and said, “Neutral.” Watch the video to see his body language.
I had just heard ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham quote a list of criticisms he had made of her to the Committee on Monday.

image

  instagram.com/p/BDFHOU8iOOv/
Thanks to @shamaroo for filming.

image

ICAC Inspector David Levine

image

ICAC Inspector David Levine with journalist Sharri Markson from The Australian.

As soon as ICAC and Police Integrity Commission Inspector David Levine walked out of the parliamentary committee room, he spoke with The Australian’s Sharri Markson. They seemed to have an established close relationship. What are the policies and procedures in the ICAC Act which specify an ICAC Inspector’s relationship with the media?

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in: Uncategorized