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Witness concerned by Berejiklian conflict

Day one of a corruption inquiry into Gladys Berejiklian has heard a senior NSW public servant considers her relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire – which he did not know about – a conflict of interest.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption on Monday began hearings into potential breaches of public trust which prompted the former NSW premier’s resignation on October 1.

It will probe whether she broke the law by failing to disclose her secret five-year personal relationship with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire and whether she “was liable to allow or encourage” his conduct.

The commission is investigating Ms Berejiklian’s role in millions of dollars worth of grant funding awarded to two projects in Mr Maguire’s electorate in 2018.

NSW Office of Sport director Michael Toohey told the hearing he was asked in 2016 to draft an urgent submission for a grant for the Australian Clay Target Association in Wagga Wagga.

Mr Toohey said the request was “extremely unusual”, and he had no knowledge of the personal relationship between the then-treasurer and Mr Maguire until it was revealed in ICAC hearings.

If he had known, he said he would have raised his concerns about funds being allocated to a local member “based on such scant and inadequate information”.

“I can’t see how that is anything but a conflict of interest,” he said.

Former bureaucrat turned NSW Rugby boss Paul Doorn will take to the witness box on Tuesday, having worked in similar roles during the period under scrutiny.

Ms Berejiklian’s predecessor as premier Mike Baird will on Wednesday give evidence, while current NSW deputy Liberal leader Stuart Ayres will follow suit on Friday, October 22.

Former deputy premier John Barilaro, who resigned two days after Ms Berejiklian, will also give evidence on October 26.

The hearing is expected to run for about 10 days, overseen by ICAC Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl SC.

Ms Berejiklian will not appear as a witness this week, but in a pre-recorded interview aired at the inquiry on Monday said she had been shocked by the allegations against Mr Maguire despite their relationship.

Mr Maguire is accused of abusing his public office and improperly gaining a benefit for himself.

“I couldn’t make any assumption at that stage (in July 2018). He was professing his innocence and saying it was a misunderstanding,” Ms Berejiklian said.

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