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MP row: cops deny lying

Steve Cansdell
Steve Cansdell JoJo Newby

NSW Police have denied allegations an officer lied about the whistleblower whose allegations forced the resignation of the former Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell.

In a story in a Sydney newspaper, Maclean solicitor Mark Spagnolo, who represents the whistleblower, Kath Palmer, said police lied when they claimed the former member's ex-staffer refused to give a formal statement.

A police media statement issued last week said Mrs Palmer had refused to be interviewed by police in relation to her part in the signing of a false statutory declaration.

This was provided as a key reason in the case being dropped by both the Commonwealth and NSW directors of public prosecutions.

But Mr Spagnolo, who represents Mrs Palmer, said this was a lie.

He provided The Daily Examiner with a copy of a letter sent to Detective Peter O'Reilly on October 19, 2011, which offered to provide police with an "induced statement" which would effectively protect Mrs Palmer from prosecution.

"They (police) contacted Kath and I and indicated they will charge her with the most serious offence of pervert the course of justice as she went to the press about Cansdell," Mr Spagnolo said.

"Kath, on legal advice from me, offered an induced statement and declined to be interviewed formally under caution due to the fact that the police had stated that they were looking at charging her.

"This is normal and one would have expected that the police would have been happy to give a whistleblower the full protection of the law."

Yesterday Police media issued a statement denying these allegations.

"The person (Mrs Palmer) was informed she had the opportunity to participate in an interview under caution," a police spokeswoman said.

"The offer by the person's legal representative to provide an induced statement was declined by police at the time because they did not believe it was appropriate."

The spokeswoman said this led to the person never giving a formal statement about her allegations.

Mrs Palmer provided a preliminary complaint to the ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) in July 2011 followed by a detailed statement in early September 2011.

That happened three days before Mr Cansdell's admission and resignation on September 16.

The commission dropped the case on November 3 last year about a fortnight after Mr Cansdell admitted to making "a dumb choice six years ago".

One of the reasons ICAC gave for dropping its investigation was that it was satisfied police were investigating the matter.

Though he didn't name Mrs Palmer in his statement, Mr Cansdell said he claimed a third party was driving his car when he was booked for speeding in 2005.

The action was taken, he said, in order to avoid the loss of his licence.

"I didn't realise the gravity of it," he said at the time.

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