NSW’s anti-corruption inquiry has apologised after accidentally publishing a transcript featuring sensitive details of the relationship between Premier Gladys Berejiklian and disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire.
The inquiry closed its hearings to the public on Thursday to protect the privacy of Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire, who had an “on-again, off-again relationship” until just a few weeks ago.
The transcript of the closed hearing was mistakenly published on the ICAC website on Thursday afternoon, remaining there for 33 minutes before it was removed.
Ahead of Mr Maguire’s third day of evidence at the inquiry on Friday, Commissioner Ruth McColl apologised for the leak.
She also reminded the hearing that the transcript had been suppressed, and could not be made public. An investigation will be launched into the publication error.
Later, Ms Berejiklian said the ICAC leak was not “pleasant”.
“But I accept their apology,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian has received the backing of senior federal ministers after the state opposition accused her of being a “sounding board for corruption” in just one element of a humiliating week.
On Monday she was compelled to go public about her long-term relationship with Mr Maguire, who is being investigated by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Ms Berejiklian was grilled by the anti-corruption body about Mr Maguire and revealed they had been partners since 2015.
This included the period in 2018 when the 61-year-old Maguire – who had represented Wagga Wagga since 1999 – was forced out of Parliament after an earlier ICAC probe heard evidence he had solicited secret commissions.
Ms Berejiklian told the ICAC she pulled the plug on her contact with Mr Maguire. Later, she faced the media to admit she had “stuffed up in my personal life”.
“I trusted someone who didn’t deserve to have my trust, and I’m deeply regretful of that,” she said.
The news of her romance with Mr Maguire sent shock waves through NSW’s Coalition government and her ministers quickly closed ranks to back her leadership and head off calls for her to resign.
Mr Maguire, who faces his third day of ICAC grilling on Friday, has already admitted using his Parliament house office for personal business deals.
He confessed he had used his taxpayer-funded staff, email and facilities for his business deals and received deliveries of thousands of dollars of cash to his office.
The money was associated with a scheme that involved securing Australian visas for Chinese nationals.
On Thursday, he admitted to the commission he had organised a “drop-in” between a property developer and Ms Berejiklian in 2017, after the men had “a couple of drinks.”
Ms Berejiklian has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
“The Opposition can clutch at any straws they like – the truth is I’ve done nothing wrong,” she said on Thursday.
On Friday, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash were both asked if Ms Berejiklian’s “close personal relationship” with Mr Maguire showed the Liberal Party had a corruption problem.
“I don’t think you could find anybody more honourable or decent than Gladys Berejiklian,” Mr Dutton told the Nine Network.
“It’s a time for NSW to get behind her.”
Senator Cash refuted suggestions of party corruption.
“Gladys Berejiklian has been up front,” she told Nine.
“I have been very pleased with the level of support that has been offered to Gladys.”