NSW has footed more than $26,000 in Daryl Maguire’s ICAC legal bills

NSW taxpayers have funded more than $26,000 in legal fees for disgraced former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire while he remains the subject of a corruption probe.

Mr Maguire last year faced a four-week corruption inquiry in which he admitted that he used his position as an MP and parliamentary secretary to run private business ventures.

The same inquiry exposed revelations that the former member for Wagga Wagga was in a secret five-year relationship with ex-premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Former NSW Liberal MP Daryl Maguire outside the ICAC last year.

Former NSW Liberal MP Daryl Maguire outside the ICAC last year.Nick Moir

Documents tabled to Parliament this week reveal,as of November 10,the state had paid $26,276.42 for Mr Maguire’s legal representation before the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

All witnesses before the ICAC are entitled to apply for legal or financial assistance. Unlike legal aid through the courts,it is not means-tested.

Approval for the funding was given by then-secretary of the Department of Communities and Justice Michael Coutts-Trotter,under delegation of Attorney-General Mark Speakman.

When Mr Speakman was asked about funding Mr Maguire’s legal costs during a budget estimates hearing in October,he said he always delegated such a decision regarding current or former politicians.

“Given the political controversy ... it has been my practice to keep well away,completely away from the decision-making and delegate it either to the Solicitor-General or the secretary of the department,” he said.

In additional answers to questions on notice,Mr Speakman said whether Mr Maguire’s appearance at the ICAC related to his conduct in the Parliament was “immaterial to the grant of assistance”.

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian after the completion of the public inquiry into her conduct earlier this year.

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian after the completion of the public inquiry into her conduct earlier this year.Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

It is not known if the sum paid so far accounts for all or part of Mr Maguire’s legal fees.

Upper house Greens MP David Shoebridge said it was galling that taxpayers had fronted any costs,given most of the conduct being examined by the ICAC was outside Mr Maguire’s official duties.

“It’s hard to see how the taxpayers should be paying to defend his private financial pursuits. It’s not like he’s defending his work as an MP,” he said.

The inquiry last year heard admissions from Mr Maguire that he turned his Parliament House office into the part-time headquarters for a private business network he silently directed.

He also agreed that he used his office to receive deliveries of thousands of dollars in cash associated with a scheme to obtain Australian visas for Chinese nationals.

During the inquiry Mr Maguire was represented by lawyer Jim Harrowell.

Mr Shoebridge said the revelations which emerged during the inquiry should give cause for a review to Mr Maguire’s state-funded legal assistance.

“I think there should be a process that when it’s pretty clear someone is behaving grossly inappropriately and well outside their remit as an MP,we should be reviewing it,” he said.

All government grants for legal assistance must be repaid in full,with interest,if a witness is convicted of an indictable offence after an inquiry.

The ICAC is yet to deliver its findings into Mr Maguire.

Earlier this year it conducted a further public inquiry examining whether Ms Berejiklian breached the public trust or encouraged in corrupt conduct during her relationship with Mr Maguire.

The probe prompted Ms Berejiklian’s immediate resignation as the state’s 45th premier. She has strenuously denied any wrongdoing.

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Lucy Cormack is a state political reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.

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