Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Ken Fleming has issued an extraordinary public statement retracting the findings of a corruption report and issuing an apology to two former City of Darwin employees who were not afforded “natural justice” during the investigation.
As only reported by the NT Independent, the report into alleged corrupt conduct committed by the former council executive and adverse findings against another former employee was yesterday pulled from circulation hours after being published by the Office of the ICAC, following the discovery of an email from the executive in the ICAC’s junk email folder.
The woman’s lawyer made the office aware after the report had erroneously indicated the woman had not commented on adverse findings against her when in fact she had.
Mr Fleming said her email contained “filterable material” and the NT Government email system sent it to the junk folder where it was not seen by office staff at any time before the report, prepared by deputy commissioner Rex Wild, was released.
“Consequently, the person did not receive the natural justice dictated by section 50 of the [ICAC Act 2017],” he said in the statement.
He added that while there were no findings of corrupt conduct against the second woman, he accepted that “some comments in the findings may be considered to be adverse to the person”.
Mr Fleming said he “deeply regrets” the failings and in response has removed all sources of the report from the OICAC’s website, retracted all findings “that have been made adverse to those people’s right to natural justice”, and requested no further public reference to the findings of the report.
He also directed his office to improve its practices to ensure a repeat stuff-up does not occur, including by regularly clearing all junk email folders, following up with anyone to whom adverse findings are made in future reports and ensuring that future adverse findings “have been included in the natural justice process, and no finding is omitted from that process”.
Mr Fleming added he has sought independent legal advice on the matter and reported the non-compliance to the ICAC Inspector.
“I apologise unconditionally to the two people named who have been denied natural justice,” he said in the statement.
“These failings I deeply regret.”
The NT Independent understands the investigation will start over again.