Judicial review for NT follows bribe claim

The Northern Territory government will conduct a judicial review following allegations that a recently-resigned magistrate encouraged a minerals explorer to donate $10,000 to the CLP in exchange for political favours.

Peter Maley resigned abruptly on Monday night, 11 months into the job and three days before emails were tabled in parliament that allege he offered to help minerals explorer Norm McCleary access sensitive government documents, receiving a donation to the party in return.

Mr Maley has been the lightning rod for controversy regarding the separation of powers. A former Country Liberal Party (CLP) politician, he donated $5000 to the re-election campaign of Attorney-General John Elferink before his appointment as magistrate.

In his short tenure he has also been spotted handing out how-to-vote cards at the Blain by-election; unveiled as a director of CLP-affiliated Foundation 51, which Labor has called a slush fund; and accused of offering inducements to Palmer United Party member Larisa Lee to stay with the CLP.

The chief minister and attorney-general insist there is no conflict in the judiciary being members of political parties.

Last week, the government failed to vote down a motion to hold an inquiry to span two decades of political donations in the NT, and on Friday announced an urgent judicial review will take place.

"We want to make certain the public have full confidence in our legal system and for there to be a transparent process for appointing judges and magistrates," Chief Minister Adam Giles said in a statement.

The review will ensure the court system is not politicised, and judicial officers may be required to complete a register of interests, he said.

Mr McCleary has alleged that in 2008 Mr Maley, who was then his solicitor, called him on behalf of the CLP, expressing sympathy for his failed mining lease.

"He stated that ... when they came to power I would be given the opportunity to review all files and documents relating to the matter," Mr McCleary wrote.

"Also, he said that the CLP was in a bind and was unable to raise enough funds for election advertising and if I was prepared to contribute 'say $10,000' to help myself and the CLP. I agreed."

Since Mr Giles became leader last year Mr McCleary has been pushing the matter, allegedly with Mr Maley's support, and Mr Giles responded to him in May.

Mr Giles denied lying to parliament about his knowledge of the matter this week.

"His requests weren't illegal, but if he's asking me to give confidential government documents, that is completely wrong," Mr Giles said.

"We didn't give that information and nor would we, and that shows the separation of powers of government and party works quite well."

Mr Maley's appointment was "obviously very political", said shadow minister for government accountability Ken Vowles, and Mr Giles and Mr Elferink "must have known something".

The attorney-general has denied all knowledge of the matter.

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