Gladys lover’s secret code word revealed
Gladys Berejiklian's former partner told a corruption inquiry he used a secret code word to set up a meeting between a property developer and a minister's staffer.
Ex-MP Daryl Maguire told the Independent Commission Against Corruption he used the code "We're having a glass of red" to communicate to Rob Vellar, chief of staff to then-planning minister Anthony Roberts, that a certain property developer had arrived to Mr Maguire's parliamentary office for a chat.
The suggestion the minister's aide knew in advance the purpose of the meeting appeared to contradict Mr Vellar's previous statement to ICAC and seemed to take counsel assisting the inquiry Scott Robertson by surprise.
"Was that an out-of-the-blue suggestion for Mr Vellar to come and meet you, or are you saying there was some previous arrangement to meet Mr Vellar?" Mr Robertson asked.
"There was previous arrangements," Mr Maguire replied.
"I'd discussed with Mr Vellar at least on three or four occasions, and the code was, 'We're having a glass of red.' And that was …"
Mr Robertson interrupted: "What do you mean, the code?"
Mr Maguire: "The code, the message, 'Come down to my office'. That's my recollection."
Mr Robertson: "But a code suggesting what? What's it a code for?"
Mr Maguire: "Well, to tell him that Mr Alha had arrived and come down to have a red and a chat."
Mr Alha referred to property developer Joe Alha, who has also previously given evidence in front of ICAC.
When Mr Vellar fronted ICAC last Friday, he was asked about a text message from Mr Maguire containing the phrase "Want to join me for a red?"
Mr Vellar told the inquiry he agreed to come to Mr Maguire's office because he "thought he may have had a complaint about some of the service that had been provided to him by one of our staff, or perhaps even a matter involving the Legislative Assembly."
In Mr Vellar's telling, he felt "ambushed" when he entered the office to find another, unknown man there with a plastic model of a building.
Mr Maguire, on the other hand, told ICAC he had previous discussions with Mr Vellar about the meeting.
"It was brought up in the discussions that I had three or four times with Mr Vellar before, and it was mentioned we were having a red so that was what I sent. He understood that Mr Alha would be there," he said.
Mr Maguire will again face the inquiry on Thursday for a second day of questioning.
Originally published as Gladys lover's secret code word revealed