The West

Former Govt official fined over Burke leak
Former Govt official fined over Burke leak

A former public servant who leaked confidential Government information about land rezoning to former premier Brian Burke has been fined $1500 but avoided a conviction on his record.

Gary Wayne Stokes received the fine in the Perth Magistrate's Court this morning, a week after he was found guilty of a charge of disclosing official secrets by releasing an email about land rezoning in Whitby to Mr Burke.

Mr Burke was last week acquitted of the charge following the pair's two-week trial earlier this year.

The rezoning in Whitby involved a conflict between the land’s owner, Urban Pacific – a client of Mr Burke and his business partner Julian Grill – and mineral sands miner Bemax over the land’s use.

The confidential information was contained in a letter from then Department of Industry and Resources director general Jim Limerick to then Department of Planning and Infrastructure director general Greg Martin about the land rezoning.

In fining Stokes $1500, Magistrate Robert Young said he believed it was a minor example of an offence of disclosing official secrets and the release of the letter had "little, if any" bearing on the outcome of mining at Whitby.

Stokes' lawyer Mark Gunning told the court this morning his client had released the letter, believing it was in the best interests of DOIR and the State of WA.

Mr Gunning said Stokes had nothing to gain by releasing the letter to Mr Burke.

Prosecutor Bruno Fiannaca argued the release of the letter had some potential to benefit Urban Pacific and the offence had the "potential to undermine integrity of government processes and public confidence".

He opposed Mr Gunning's application for a spent conviction, saying it would "reverberate" through the public service that "one can do this (type of thing) and still have a clean record".

Mr Young granted the spent conviction, saying he was satisfied Stokes was unlikely to reoffend, was of previous good character and he did not see how granting a spent conviction would in some way "embolden public servants to behave in a less ethical fashion".

The West Australian

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