But it did say he was “party to an agreement” to disguise payments with an intention of evading donation laws and that he sought prohibited donations from a property developer.
The issue has now returned to the spotlight after an exchange at a parliamentary hearing last month between the ICAC’s independent supervisor Bruce McClintock SC and Labor MP Ron Hoenig.
Hoenig, firmly in Gallacher’s corner, asked McClintock about how he thought the former police minister had been treated by Geoffrey Watson SC, the counsel assisting the inquiry.
“No adverse finding was made against Mr Gallacher in terms of the findings of corrupt conduct or anything of that nature?” Hoenig asked.
“There was no finding of corrupt conduct made against him,” McClintock replied.
“I think personally what happened to [Gallacher] was wrong and unfair,” he added later.
This exchange — and another where Labor MP Adam Searle suggested Watson had breached Bar Association conduct rules — left Watson seriously unhappy.
In a letter to Tanya Davies, the Liberal MP who chairs Parliament’s ICAC committee, Watson took issue with Hoenig’s commentary.
“I ask you to note that I have previously attempted to make contact with a Committee member, Mr Hoenig MLA — but he has failed to return my emails,” Watson wrote in a letter dated October 30.
“I wish to draw to the attention of the Committee that during a recent hearing … Mr Hoenig asked questioned based upon false premises, and the answers provided by the Inspector were not accurate or, at least, did not portray the true position.
“I accept that Mr Hoenig must have been misinformed and that the Inspector must have been temporarily mistaken.”
Davies was not the only person to hear from Watson after that exchange.
McClintock himself was recipient of one missive from Watson, sent on October 25.
“I did not say there was no evidence presented against Gallacher during Spicer — of course there was and there were findings made against him as a result of that evidence. I was aware of that when I gave my evidence,” McClintock responded.
And, as legal journal Justinian reported on Friday, Watson also wrote to complain about reporting on the Parliamentary hearing by The Australian’s legal affairs editor Chris Merritt.
Watson complained that the articles were published without contacting him.
(The newspaper said it would publish a 600-word response from Watson, which it received, but that it was spiked because it contained personal attacks, we were told.)
McClintock, meanwhile, is continuing his own audit into how the ICAC deals with counsel assisting its inquiries to make sure that witnesses are dealt with fairly.
That audit was launched, according to a letter McClintock wrote to Gallacher last year, because he felt it was “hard to see” how Watson’s question to property developer Darren Williams — alleging improper conduct by the then police minister, leading to his resignation — was warranted.
IN THE MONEY
Even by Josh Frydenberg’s standards, Monday night was an impressive performance.
The Treasurer managed to bring close to $200,000 into the Liberal Party’s coffers over a dinner of fish and cheese platters courtesy of property investor Greg Shand.
Shand hosted Frydenberg in his Eastern Suburbs home, hauling in a high-profile list of the city’s wealthy financiers for the top-secret fundraiser.
Our correspondent noted more than a dozen guests around the dinner table in all, including Ellerston Capital boss Ashok Jacob and Caledonia Investments fund manager Will Vicars. We’d hope he wasn’t doling out investment advice across the dinner table…
Also in attendance: former Babcock & Brown banker Phil Green, Ariadne chairman David Baffsky and fellow director Gary Weiss, Luminis Partners deal-maker Simon Mordant and Bank of America Merrill Lynch country head Joe Fayyad.
They were joined by another property investor, Bob Magid, former Hoyts cinemas boss Peter Ivany, ANZ director John Macfarlane (also up from Melbourne) and corporate lawyer John Landerer.
The latter is currently flogging his nearby Vaucluse mansion Ganedan for more than $60 million. Surely someone in the room could have been an interested buyer?
Signing out of Macquarie Street for the final time next month after four years and three leaders — Jodi McKay, Michael Daley and Luke Foley — is Labor’s chief spinner Julian Lee.
Lee will depart for Catholic Health Australia, joining former party boss Pat Garcia.
He resigned from Labor HQ to join the outfit last month.
Kylar Loussikian is The Sydney Morning Herald’s CBD columnist.
Samantha is the The Age’s CBD columnist. She recently covered Victorian and NSW politics and business for News Corp, and previously worked for the Australian Financial Review.