We welcome the decision of the Court in upholding our client’s right to procedural fairness.
Article extracted from The Australian, Angelica Snowden 19 October 2022
The main target of a Victorian anti-corruption investigation has claimed a major legal victory over IBAC.
Property developer John Woodman has been investigated by the Independent Broad-based Anti Corruption Commission over his involvement in allegedly corrupt land deals involving City of Casey councillors since 2018.
In March, he launched a bid in the Victorian Supreme Court to stop the report from being tabled in parliament, claiming he had been denied “procedural fairness” and not afforded the opportunity to respond to all adverse material against him.
On Monday, the Supreme Court’s decision was published, and Justice Timothy Ginnane found IBAC did not comply with some of its legal obligations by failing to grant Mr Woodman access to particular information or documents as part of Operation Sandon.
Mr Woodman welcomes the news but said the Supreme Court case could have been avoided: “I wish the court hearing did not have to be behind closed doors or to have IBAC’s failings kept from public scrutiny. The whole sorry saga was totally avoidable if IBAC had just complied with the law.”
Duxton Hill principal lawyer Andrew Tragardh said Mr Woodman expected to be treated fairly, “like any other Victorian”.
“Contrary to law, IBAC refused to provide Mr Woodman with procedural fairness. We complained and ultimately had to refer the matter to the Supreme Court,” he said. “IBAC did not relent. Now (the) judgment has vindicated Mr Woodman.”
Operation Sandon probed whether councillors received improper benefits or donations in exchange for favourable decisions.
IBAC sent the first volume of a draft version of the report to Mr Woodman and his legal team on December 24 last year and a second volume on January 10 this year. Footnotes in both versions of the report were redacted.
Judge Ginnane reported: “I find that IBAC has not complied with the requirements of s 162(3) and of procedural fairness.”
IBAC has been contacted for comment.