The inspector of the NSW corruption watchdog admits he's troubled by the idea of private hearings but says they are necessary to avoid "collateral damage".
Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inspector David Levine defended his controversial recommendation to abolish public hearings, at a state parliamentary committee hearing on Thursday.
Referencing his background as a judge, Mr Levine said he was intuitively opposed to secret hearings and had come to his view "with the greatest reluctance".
"I think to avoid the immense collateral damage, which seems to be of little interest to the ICAC, have your inquiry in private," Mr Levine told the committee at a public hearing in Sydney on Thursday.
"It can be done efficiently, there is no occasion for performance, the circus, and if you come to an adverse finding then you shine the light on it.
"But if you find that there is none you say nothing."
Mr Levine also questioned ICAC's definition of what was in the public interest, referring to its pursuit of two university employees over "relatively minor matters".
He called for a strong oversight body to be established to ensure people have "a fair go" before ICAC.
The need for private hearings was one of 16 recommendations Mr Levine made in his May report on ICAC's powers.
The report was commissioned by the premier after a damning High Court ruling that found ICAC did not have the power to pursue an investigation into crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen.
ICAC has rejected almost all Mr Levine's recommendations and says private hearings would seriously weaken its effectiveness.
ICAC commissioner Megan Latham is due to appear before the parliamentary committee on Friday.