Hiring family 'common' at Qld health body

·3-min read

Hiring family was "pretty common" at Queensland's biggest public hospital service before it became embroiled in an alleged nepotism scandal, a court has been told.

Former Metro North Hospital and Health Service chief executive Malcolm Frederick Stamp is facing corruption charges amid allegations he dishonestly arranged a job for his daughter Katy in 2014.

Stamp, 69, flew in from the United Kingdom to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court committal hearing, four years after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Former Metro North executive Geoffrey William Hitchings told the court on Thursday that he "thought nothing of it" when Ms Stamp was employed.

He agreed it was not uncommon for family of staff to work for Metro North or their contractors, revealing that his own daughter had been hired.

Mr Hitchings said as a result there had been many instances of nepotism accusations and office bullying, with his daughter among the victims.

"They (accusations) weren't true though, were they? I imagine you felt pretty annoyed about that, that it is grossly unfair?" defence barrister Saul Holt asked.

"Yes," Mr Hitchings replied.

Mr Hitchings said it was why former executive Scott McMullen asked him to change Ms Stamp's name on her Metro North email address when she began work.

It was mainly to avoid bullying because "the boss' daughter had been employed," he said.

The Crime and Corruption Commission charged Stamp in 2018, alleging he dishonestly arranged for his daughter to be given a media and communication services job with an annual salary of $80,000.

CCC alleged the role was organised by another executive via a taxpayer-funded contract with a Metro North supplier before efforts were made to cover it up.

Mr Hitchings - who received immunity from prosecution after providing CCC evidence - confirmed there was an $80,000 "variation contract" but believed it had been organised by McMullen, not Stamp.

"You described him (McMullen) as FIGJAM, what's that mean?" Mr Holt asked.

"F*** I'm good, just ask me," Mr Hitchings replied.

Mr Hitchings said McMullen was horrific to work for, was always "big noting" and acted like he was Stamp's "go to guy".

"The expression used was ... he was so far up Malcolm Stamp's arse that all you could see was his feet," Mr Holt said.

"Yep," Mr Hitchings replied.

Mr Hitchings said McMullen had handed him the variation contract, asking him to rejig it so it didn't refer to media and communications at all but he refused.

Once an investigation began over the alleged nepotism scandal, Mr Hitchings said McMullen asked him to delete every email involving Ms Stamp, and to find and destroy all copies of the variation contract.

Mr Hitchings said he had little contact with Stamp throughout.

But the court heard Mr Hitchings told the CCC Stamp had organised a meeting with him and McMullen about covering up the $80,000 during the investigation.

Mr Hitchings, however, conceded on Thursday that he was "unbelievably stressed" and "totally spaced out" at the time and could only recall the gist of the conversation.

Mr Hitchings also told the CCC that Stamp rang and asked him to "stick to the story" during the investigation.

But the court heard Mr Hitchings told an internal investigation barely 24 hours after the call that Stamp had simply rung to ask about his ailing health.

"I can't explain it," Mr Hitchings said when asked about the discrepancy.

The hearing continues.

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