Former premier Brian Burke told his lobbying partner Julian Grill that he thought a copy of a letter he had been sent by a government official was "very confidential", secretly recorded tapes played to Perth Magistrate's Court yesterday reveal.
Mr Burke and former public servant Gary Stokes are fighting charges of disclosing official secrets relating to the rezoning of land in Whitby, south-east of Perth.
The rezoning involved a conflict between Mr Burke's client and the owner of the land, Urban Pacific, and mineral sands miner Bemax.
Urban Pacific wanted an "urban deferred" zoning over the land to be lifted to allow for the site's development, while Bemax wanted to exploit mineral deposits on the site.
The allegations relate to a copy of a letter from then Department of Industry and Resources director-general Jim Limerick to then Department of Planning and Infrastructure director-general Greg Martin.
The copy of the letter was allegedly emailed to Mr Burke by Mr Stokes.
Dr Limerick told the court that while much of the content of the letter was public knowledge, he was not aware of what had been revealed in negotiations between Urban Pacific and Bemax and he did not authorise the release of the communication.
He said the letter had the potential to give Urban Pacific an advantage by hinting that the department might lift its opposition to the land rezoning.
Yesterday, conversations between Mr Burke, Mr Grill, Mr Stokes and Urban Pacific project director David Cecchele - recorded by the Corruption and Crime Commission - were played to the court.During one conversation, Mr Stokes told Mr Burke that he believed his department - which had not followed through on a draft letter withdrawing its objection to the rezoning - was "gutless", but assured him the outcome would be the same.
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