In response to the Attorney General’s recent remarks in Parliament and the recent article by Chris Merritt in the Australian newspaper.

Geoffrey Watson SC has publicly acknowledged that his behaviour on the day of the Operation Spicer hearing mentioned by Christian Porter and Chris Merritt was inappropriate and he has apologised for that.

The Centre for Public Integrity regards Geoffrey Watson as a passionate advocate for integrity and accountability in Australia.

In their remarks, both Christian Porter and Chris Merritt overlook the fact that ICAC Inspector Bruce McClintock’s report finds that Geoffrey Watson’s conduct “was, however, a failure of process and not a failure of substance, nor a continuing systemic failure.” McClintock goes on to say that “That failure of process does not seem to me to have had any effect on the ICAC’s ultimate decision about Mr Gallacher’s conduct.”

McClintock’s report acknolwedges that Gallacher, far from exonerated, had been found by ICAC to be involved in a conspiracy to undermine electoral laws and his truthfulness as a witness could not be relied upon. McClintock correctly notes that these findings would have led to his resignation, and that the findings have never been overturned:

While the ICAC did not make any findings of corrupt conduct against him [Gallacher], it did make several findings of serious wrongdoing in that he had knowingly attempted, in effect, to breach the electoral laws of New South Wales. In these circumstances, it would have been difficult, I imagine, for him to continue to be a Minister of the Crown once the ICAC findings become public. Those findings have not, to my knowledge, ever been challenged.”