Former CEO of Logan City Council Sharon Kelsey. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning
Former CEO of Logan City Council Sharon Kelsey. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

Secret documents withheld as councillor sues

SECRET investigative documents will remain off-limits to Logan council's former chief executive officer as she sues councillors over allegations she was sacked for being a whistleblower.

The Crime and Corruption Commission, which is investigating Logan City Council, handed over telephone intercept information and coercive hearing transcripts to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission in July, after a legal request by former Logan council CEO Sharon Kelsey.

Ms Kelsey is a whistleblower who has taken unfair dismissal action against suspended Mayor Luke Smith and seven other councillors over allegations her February sacking from the role was retribution for reporting suspected corrupt conduct by Smith to the CCC.

Former CEO of Logan City Council Sharon Kelsey. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning
Former CEO of Logan City Council Sharon Kelsey. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

As revealed by The Courier-Mail in August, the CCC is investigating allegations Smith "directed or otherwise influenced seven other councillors" to terminate Ms Kesley in retaliation for her providing information to the CCC last October.

Smith is separately defending charges including official corruption and perjury following a lengthy CCC investigation. He has vowed to fight the charges.

Court documents state the CCC handed the QIRC a bundle of investigative documents after being served a notice from Kesley's lawyers.

The CCC stated in correspondence, tendered in court, that its decision to produce the documents was so the QIRC was not in a "position where it is denied access to important evidence that is relevant to the facts in issue in the proceedings."

It also argued the material "decreases the chances of the QIRC having false evidence placed before it which is uncontested."

But council lawyers, and lawyers representing the mayor and individual councillors, took legal action to block the CCC documents' release, arguing it amounted to a "fishing expedition."

The lawyers also objected on the grounds the documents were likely obtained using the CCC's coercive powers and were limited as to their use.

Commissioner Gary Black yesterday ruled the CCC documents off-limits.

In his decision, he said "material obtained under compulsion cannot be disclosed to the applicant or to the applicant's lawyers" or used in proceedings, so "it can serve no legitimate forensic purpose.

He said it was "clear that any access on the part of the applicant to such material would likely prejudice the prospects of a fair trial and may lead to interference in the administration of justice."

Ms Kelsey's legal action hinges on whether the seven councillors had an alliance with Smith.

Smith and the councillors have denied a political alliance and reject their decision to sack Ms Kesley was in retaliation for her assisting the CCC.

The CCC in June executed search warrants on the councillors homes and seized their mobile phones as part of the investigation.