A former Logan whistleblowing council chairman has lost her lawsuit against ex-Mayor Luke Smith and seven councilors over allegations that she was fired for complaining to corruption officials.
The week-long decision, which cannot be announced until today after a repression warrant has been lifted, fueled the state’s Top Council lobbying group to investigate the Criminal Investigation and Corruption Commission into its decision to prosecute the eight former politicians and dismiss former CEO Sharon Kelsey.
The CCC brought fraud charges against the eight councilors in 2019 – which sparked their dismissal – on charges that they “planned” to fire Ms. Kelsey and committed fraud by dishonestly “harming” her of at least $ 100,000 Loss of wages caused.
However, the charges were dismissed in Brisbane Magistrates Court earlier this month after the prosecutor ruled that there was no reasonable prospect of prosecution.
Smith, who is separately charged with corruption, has been tried in the district court on two charges of misconduct in public office.
It can now be determined that the fraud cases ended after the QIRC dismissed Ms. Kelsey’s civil suit in early April and Vice President Daniel O’Connor questioned her reliability on the witness stand.
“The way Ms. Kelsey presented her evidence was such that it was difficult to determine whether the answer to a question was a matter of reconstruction or memory,” he said.
Ms. Kelsey was named CEO of Logan Council in June 2017, but stated on QIRC that she had been exposed to negative action because of several actions she took in her role later that year, including refusing to appoint any of Smith’s attorneys Press release issued in connection with the CCCs Operation Belcarra report.
She was fired in February 2018 – months after filing a complaint with the CCC – and took action in the QIRC. She claimed the seven councilors were politically affiliated with Smith and worked together to finish their jobs after becoming a whistleblower.
Ms. Kelsey’s allegations included that the city councils were politically minded and had secretly worked together to fire her, including discussing her future in a “Fab 7” group on the WhatsApp messaging app.
A WhatsApp message referenced in the QIRC decision regarding Ms. Kelsey: “To avoid any confusion on this, it is my position not to extend the trial period and to ensure the door is two day (sic) and hits Ms. Seuss hard twice, once in the face and then in the ass on the way out on January 30th. No, wait … do that twice in the face. ”
Mr. O’Connor noted that while the job was “unacceptable and offensive”, “could not be explained solely by reference to Ms. Kelsey’s filing of a public interest disclosure through the Council”.
He found no evidence, even in the WhatsApp transcripts, of a political alliance or that the councilors who voted to fire them knew how someone else would vote.
The QIRC ruling also relates to the fact that prior to the dismissal, the city council received a letter from Ms. Kelsey’s attorney and the CCC warning them of the penalties associated with taking action against a whistleblower, including the fact that the CCC would investigate such measures taken.
“It seems inconceivable to me that the (councilors) would disregard correspondence, advice and warnings and vote through blind loyalty to Mayor Smith to terminate the applicant for an unlawful reason,” he said.
“I will take the time to read it carefully, consider all of my options, and thank the many who have provided really enduring and overwhelming support,” she said.
Greg Hallam, Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Local Government Association, today reiterated his calls for the CCC to investigate the abandoned fraud case following the publication of the QIRC.
“The prosecution should never have come against the group of former Logan councilors,” he said.
“These former councilors were confirmed in the Brisbane Magistrates Court when the CCC’s charges against them were dismissed, and they were further confirmed today.
“This does not change the fact that their livelihoods and reputations have been ruined and a properly elected council has been unfairly dismissed.
The CCC did not comment yesterday, but Chairman Alan MacSporran previously dismissed criticism that “there can be no legitimate claim or criticism that the CCC was not empowered to investigate, or that it was wrong or in some way inappropriate to do so To prosecute persons “.
“After the CCC charged these eight people, the evidence information was passed on to the ODPP so that they could independently evaluate the evidence and decide whether or not to prosecute it,” he said.
“In those cases, they continued the prosecution, and it wasn’t until the Magistrates Court was well advanced that the charges were dismissed.”
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