On 25 March 2018, the Council issued a media release that reported on the Council’s adoption of the recommendations made in a report from McCullough Robertson, lawyers, whom the law firm McPhee Kelshaw (the Council’s solicitors in this matter) retained to conduct an independent investigation into serious allegations made in the media against the Council, and against individual Council officers, in relation to the recruitment of staff and the appointment of consultants.
The media release included the following:
“The investigation found that there has been no breach of Council’s Code of Conduct, no breach of relevant policies and procedures and no corrupt conduct. The allegations are unsubstantiated.
“Importantly, all named individuals who were the subject of the allegations aired in the media in early November and since, have been cleared of any wrongdoing.”
In the course of the extensive work being done for the purposes of the Public Inquiry into the Council, which has been holding hearings in Katoomba this week, a detailed review has drawn attention to the fact that the independent investigators, albeit not in the Part of the report headed “. . . Findings”, was satisfied that one person breached one provision of the Code of Conduct by failing to record a conflict of interest in writing in respect of a recruitment process, although it was also found that the staff member did promptly declare the conflict orally, did handle the conflict appropriately and did send an email referring to the need to exclude himself from the panel. The breach was found by the independent investigators to be of low objective seriousness.
The independent investigators found no breach of any policy or procedure, found the allegations they investigated to be unsubstantiated and did not make any finding of corrupt conduct. All those subjected to allegations were cleared of wrongdoing.