New South Wales Government lawyers withheld information from a court as they fought a damages claim brought by child abuse victims, an inquiry has heard.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is looking at the Government's treatment of child abuse victims from the Bethcar Children's Home in Brewarrina in north-west NSW.
More than a dozen children were abused at Bethcar, a state-funded foster care facility established in the 1970s for disadvantaged Aboriginal children, the commission has heard.
It is investigating the handling of a 2008 civil compensation claim by 15 former residents, which took six years to settle.
The commission has heard that the names of witnesses who could have been called to give evidence were withheld from the court.
Government investigator Peter Maxwell, who prepared an affidavit for the civil case, told the royal commission he included the names of those witnesses but they were removed by Government lawyers.
"My recollection is that there was a concern that if the witnesses were named, the plaintiffs or solicitors, counsel for the plaintiff, could then call for the statements," Mr Maxwell told the Sydney hearing.
"Now those statements, those five or six statements that all went directly to the several of the plaintiffs... would have affected the liability, I suspect."
Lawyer won't 'suggest legal system is fair'
However, Patrick Saidi, the lead barrister in the Government's legal team, denied acting inappropriately.
"I'm not going to try and support the legal system and suggest a legal system is fair," Mr Saidi said.
"I've spent over 35 years now in the legal system and my view of the legal system is, in many respects, it's inherently unfair.
"But as a barrister, I operate by the rules of the legal system."
Mr Saidi was also critical of the victims' statements, saying they were the worst he had seen in his career.
He said that led to the six-year delay in settling the compensation claim.
Bethcar's operators and alleged abuse perpetrators, Burt and Edith Gordon, are now dead, but their son-in-law, Colin Gibson, was jailed in 2006 for child abuse offences that took place at the home.