Daryl Maguire sought to 'limit the information' he gave Gladys Berejiklian about business deals

Disgraced former MP tells Icac the NSW premier ‘did not want to know’ details about his activities during their ‘close personal relationship’

The former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire sought to “limit the information” he gave New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian about business deals that are now the subject of an anti-corruption inquiry because telling her too much would put her “in a really difficult position”.

But the premier, Maguire told a hearing of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, also “did not want to know”.

On the third and final day of his evidence to the commission on Friday, Maguire gave the clearest picture yet of the extent to which he deliberately sought to limit what the premier knew about his activities during the “close personal relationship” that they secretly maintained for several years.

During one exchange, in which the counsel assisting the commission Scott Robertson grilled Maguire on the western Sydney land deal that the former MP had hoped would help him pay off his $1.5m debt, he agreed that he had “sought to shield some of that information from Ms Berejiklian”.

Maguire agreed that he had shared information in “general terms” and that the premier had been “at least to some extent, a sounding board” but that “there was a line at which you wouldn’t fix her with knowledge in relation to your activities”.

“Yes, that’s correct,” Maguire said. But the concern went both ways, Icac heard.

In one call, from 2017, Maguire told the premier that he was confident of securing a land deal in western Sydney which would help him pay off his $1.5m personal debt.

“I don’t need to know that bit,” she replied.

Robertson asked Maguire if there were “particular bits of information that [Ms Berejiklian] didn’t want to know about your activities?”

“Well, yes,” Maguire said.

“And where is the line drawn, at least in your mind, as to what you would share in relation to your what I’ll call outside business activities, and what you’d not share?” Robertson asked.

“I think the line is just general discussion, general overview, and that was about it,” Maguire replied.

Maguire’s evidence on Friday marked the culmination of an extraordinary week of evidence before the anti-corruption watchdog.

What began with Berejiklian making the extraordinary admission that she had been in a secret “close personal relationship” with the MP since at least 2015 ended with Maguire making statements at the hearing suggesting he breached public trust and improperly used his position as an MP to gain a financial benefit between 2012 and 2018.

After previously telling the inquiry he sought to “monetise” his parliamentary office and use his status for his own financial gain through a series of business deals, including a cash-for-visa scheme that he said he knew involved lying to immigration officials, on Friday Maguire told the inquiry he deliberately lost devices in an attempt to foil Icac’s investigation, and instructed associates to delete incriminating messages and emails.

But the political fallout for Berejiklian may only just be beginning. The premier stood by her evidence to the Icac under questioning from journalists on Friday, telling reporters: “Hand on heart, I did nothing wrong.”

She also said she had been “let down” by the Icac itself, after it inadvertently published the entire transcript of a private hearing late on Thursday afternoon.

“Suffice to say it has not been pleasant,” she said.

But the questions about whether, as opposition leader Jodi McKay put it in parliament this week, the premier had been a “sounding board for corruption” will continue.

Late on Friday, a previously secret transcript suggested Maguire had contradicted the premier’s account – and his own earlier account – of when their relationship had begun. Under questioning from Robertson during a closed hearing, Maguire agreed he was in “a close personal relationship” with Berejiklian in 2014 and it may have begun in 2013.

Again on Friday, the commission heard a series of intercepted phone calls between Maguire and Berejiklian in which the premier stated that she did not want to be told certain information.

Contributor

Michael McGowan

The GuardianTramp

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