Damien Tudehope, who will chair the parliamentary hearing into the ICAC. Photo: Supplied ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham gives evidence at a parliamentary inquiry last year. Photo: Daniel Munoz
The chair of a parliamentary committee preparing to quiz anti-corruption chief Megan Latham over the investigation of Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen has issued questions to her weeks before the hearing, signalling a fiery line of inquiry.
Liberal MP Damien Tudehope has taken the unusual step of writing to the commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption asking her to respond to questions – including the amount spent on legal fees on the Cunneen matter – by February 4.
Mr Tudehope sent his letter to Ms Latham on January 15 without first discussing the move with other members of the parliamentary oversight committee, as would normally be the case.
It comes after Ms Latham clashed with Mr Tudehope’s committee in August last year, when she refused to answer questions about the Cunneen investigation, arguing the matter was beyond the committee’s powers.
The committee is preparing to grill Ms Latham and senior commission officers on February 11 following a scathing report by the Inspector of the ICAC, David Levine, into its bid to investigate Ms Cunneen.
The ICAC sought to investigate an allegation, denied by Ms Cunneen, that she tried to pervert the course of justice by advising her son’s girlfriend, Sophia Tilley, to fake chest pains after a car accident to avoid a breath test.
It abandoned the investigation after the High Court ruled it was beyond the ICAC’s jurisdiction.
Inspector Levine found the episode was a “low point” in ICAC’s history and it had engaged in “unreasonable, unjust, [and] oppressive maladministration”.
But the ICAC claimed Inspector Levine’s report contained legal and factual errors.
In his letter, Mr Tudehope asks Ms Latham if there is a “manual” governing how the ICAC conducts private and public hearings and to provide a copy if one exists.
He also asks for any “policy document” governing the rights of witnesses and details of the process for issuing search warrants and how the ICAC handles complaints against it about alleged leaking to the media.
Apart from Ms Latham, the inquiry witness list includes ICAC solicitor Roy Waldon, executive director of investigation Sharon Loder and executive director of corruption prevention Robert Waldersee.
Inspector Levine’s report revealed Dr Waldersee advised against proceeding to a full investigation of Ms Cunneen as it was not within ICAC’s remit, but the contrary view of Mr Waldon and Ms Loder prevailed.
Inspector Levine and NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Lloyd Babb are also due to appear.
On Wednesday, Mr Tudehope said his questions were “standard questions on notice and cover matters which I believe may arise before the committee”.
“I do not believe the questions are unduly provocative,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the ICAC declined to comment.
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