Gladys Berejiklian needs to clarify just how intimate her ‘close personal relationship’ with disgraced MP Daryl Maguire was, as it could have massive ramifications for her job.
The NSW Premier has repeatedly argued she was not in an ‘intimate’ relationship with Mr Maguire, but when asked in a weekend interview if she ‘loved’ him she said: ‘I did’.
Legal expert and former NSW director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery said Ms Berejiklian’s admission of love was potentially inconsistent with her claims before ICAC.
If their relationship could be defined as ‘intimate’, Mr Maguire would be considered family and could cause a conflict of interest for Ms Berejiklian.
Gladys Berejiklian has ‘given up on love indefinitely’ after revealing that she hoped to one day marry disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire
This means she may have had to declare the dodgy land deals he was working on in Badgerys Creek and elsewhere.
Mr Cowdery said the couple may have been more intimate than previously disclosed.
‘If she says she was in love with him and admits they were in a close personal relationship, and they were spending a lot of time together then it’s getting very close to being intimate,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
‘Much depends on the precise nature of the relationship over five years. The definition of ‘family member’ as including an ‘intimate personal relationship’ is well capable of capturing a relationship of this kind.
‘If the relationship was considered as an ‘intimate personal relationship’ there are obligations of disclosure on the Premier that may not have been satisfied.’
The Ministerial Code of Conduct states that a conflict of interest, which must be disclosed, applies to a minister’s family ‘or anyone else in an intimate personal relationship’.
Throughout the ICAC inquiry and several media appearances afterwards, Ms Berejiklian appeared stoic, but confessed she had shed tears in the privacy of her own home over the embarrassment of the entire experience
A conflict is triggered if decision could ‘reasonably be expected’ to bring a private benefit to the minister or family member and the minister had the potential to be influenced in their decision.
Should their relationship have met this criteria, Ms Berejiklian may have broken the code by not reporting it, and her knowledge of Mr Maguire’s land deals.
The premier said she, to the contrary, ‘didn’t feel the relationship had sufficient substance to be made public’ or even to be released to her family.
She has characterised it as a ‘close personal relationship’, which has a different status under the Ministerial Code.
But she told the Sunday Telegraph over the weekend that she did love him and considered marrying him after decades of being ‘married to the job’.
This was right up until she was forced to unceremoniously sack the Wagga Wagga representative in 2018 after learning he was making dodgy deals.
But she continued a ‘close personal relationship’ with the 61-year-old until as recently as this September, when she was called to give evidence at an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry.
Ms Berejiklian said having intimate details of her private life laid bare was a nightmare situation and left her feeling ‘humiliated and embarrassed’.
‘I’m still trying to process it. I feel like it’s someone else living this… It’s like I’m the main protagonist in a movie. It’s like I’m the feature and the film is going to end and my life is going to go back to normal but it will never be normal again,’ she said.
The premier said she would continue to put her professional career above her personal life.
‘I can formally say to people I’ve given up on love,’ she said. ‘I’m just going to say I have always put my job first, rightly or wrongly, and that will now continue indefinitely.’
But that wasn’t always the case.
At the height of their relationship, Ms Berejiklian hoped to one day go public with Mr Maguire, and even dreamed of marrying him.
Throughout the ICAC inquiry and several media appearances afterwards, Ms Berejiklian appeared stoic, but confessed she had shed tears in the privacy of her own home over the embarrassment of the entire experience.
She learned during the corruption hearing just how much Mr Maguire had relied on her name during discussions with business associates and her government’s resources in his dodgy side deals.
‘I’m never going to speak to him again. My life’s changed forever,’ she said.
Ms Berejiklian is a notoriously private woman who had never spoken publicly about her personal affairs or relationship status before details of this romance became public last week.
Not even her own family knew about her five-year affair with Mr Maguire.
The premier informed her two sisters that she was about to be publicly humiliated during the hearing, but couldn’t go into detail with them for legal reasons.
But she asked them to watch over their parents in case things got ‘messy’.
Ms Berejiklian still has not defined what exactly her relationship was with Mr Maguire, admitting to the publication that it was difficult to label.
‘It wasn’t a traditional type of relationship,’ she said.
The duo had been friends for more than 20 years before becoming intimate around 2015.
Testifying on Friday, Mr Maguire said he instructed his electoral staff to delete all his records that may have been incriminating after his appearance at a 2018 ICAC inquiry that forced his resignation as member for Wagga Wagga.
‘When it became evident that I could no longer retain the position of member for Wagga Wagga… yes, I told them to wipe everything,’ Mr Maguire said.
Testifying on Friday, Mr Maguire said he instructed his electoral staff to delete all his records that may have been incriminating after his appearance at a 2018 ICAC inquiry that forced his resignation as member for Wagga Wagga
He also admitted a back-up copy of his files on a USB was ‘dropped’ at his farm gate and run over several times, rejecting the suggestion he had destroyed it deliberately.
Mr Maguire also conceded he had told some of his business associates to delete their records too.
Earlier on Friday ICAC apologised to Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire, after a transcript of suppressed details of their relationship was accidentally uploaded online.
The transcript of the closed-door hearing, during which Mr Maguire was grilled about sensitive details of their relationship, was available online for more than 30 minutes.
Ms Berejiklian has been forced to defend her integrity after admitting on Monday she had a five-year relationship with Mr Maguire. She insists she had no inkling his dealings may be dodgy.
A transcript of private hearings on Thursday were released on Friday showing Mr Maguire admitted forming a relationship with Ms Berejiklian as early as 2013 and becoming ‘close’ in 2014. Both previously said it began around 2015.
Mr Maguire told the inquiry he did shield the premier from details of his business activities, but had used her as a ‘sounding board’.
‘I thought it would cause her difficulties, so I limited the information that I gave her, yes … obviously, there is a conflict of interest and all that kind of stuff,’ he said.
Ms Berejiklian on Friday batted away more questions about her integrity.
‘Hand on heart, I have done nothing wrong,’ she said.