NT corruption watchdog withdraws report

·2-min read

The Northern Territory corruption watchdog will not republish a controversial report into a multi-million dollar government grant to the Darwin Turf Club after the Supreme Court criticised its processes.

The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption removed the report into the $12 million NT government grant to build a multi-purpose grandstand after a former turf club board member successfully challenged it.

Damien Moriarty asked the court for a judicial review into the conduct of the former corruption commissioner Ken Fleming QC, after he was found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct and breaching public trust.

Justice Judith Kelly in June found that Mr Fleming did not give Mr Moriarty procedural fairness by failing to provide notice of his guilty finding or an adequate opportunity to respond to the report.

ICAC Commissioner Michael Riches on Tuesday said the report was initially taken down "because Justice Kelly's findings required me to remove certain parts of the public statement before it was republished".

"I have (since) determined that I will not exercise the power to republish that Public Statement on the ICAC website," he said in a statement.

Mr Riches also said former turf club chairman Brett Dixon had withdrawn his Supreme Court challenge following the decision not to republish the findings.

"In deciding not to republish the public statement it should not be understood that I accept all of the criticisms made by parties about that public statement or the findings made by the former commissioner," Mr Riches said.

Mr Fleming's report released in June 2021 also found corruption, misconduct and mismanagement of public resources at the Fannie Bay Race Course in relation to the grandstand project.

The club's board failed to declare and manage conflicts of interest, which resulted in the contract to build the grandstand being given to one of the chairman's companies, the report said.

Former Chief Minister Michael Gunner publicly urged the turf club board to resign, saying the findings were appalling and civil action could be instigated against those who benefited from the grant.

The ICAC investigation took more than a year to complete and involved 54 directions not to disclose information, 34 notices to produce items or information and 28 examinations.

The report made 18 recommendations, relating to the governance of the turf club and associations, lobbying, ministerial and departmental policy, and grants policies and evaluation.

Mr Fleming retired from ICAC in July 2021 and returned to Queensland, saying he wanted to be closer to family.

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