Sunday, February 14, 2016
Why can't the slime at ICAC make a public apology and offer compensation? They just cannot admit that they got it wrong
He was once one of the highest-ranking and most respected emergency managers in the state. He has more than 30 years' crisis and fire rescue management experience and has overseen the response to some of the biggest disasters in the state.
But Steven Pearce, highly decorated former deputy commissioner of the State Emergency Service, lost his position and had his life ruined during an investigation by the beleaguered anti-corruption watchdog ICAC - even though he has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Now he is seeking compensation and acknowledgement for the pain and suffering endured by him and his family.
"There has never been any public acknowledgement from ICAC or the government that all of the allegations of corruption made against me were intensively investigated, in four separate inquiries, and all found to be unsubstantiated," Mr Pearce told Fairfax Media.
"I also deserve a public apology that I have never done anything corrupt."
Mr Pearce was the subject of an ICAC inquiry after allegations that he had misused an SES credit card and inappropriately dealt with two contracts. The allegations were made against him by his then fellow SES deputy commissioner Tara McCarthy.
He was suspended from his position while the ICAC investigated; the ICAC eventually made no findings of corrupt conduct against Mr Pearce.
The ICAC referred the matter to the Public Service Commissioner, who cleared him of any corrupt conduct. Ms McCarthy was sacked in May 2013, sparking an ICAC investigation into then SES commissioner Murray Kear.
Mr Kear resigned after ICAC found him corrupt for sacking a whistleblower and allegedly failing to investigate corruption allegations against Mr Pearce.
Last week, he faced a committal hearing into the charges against him. Mr Kear has pleaded not guilty.
In late 2014, he quietly returned to work after an internal announcement to staff that there were no findings of corrupt conduct against him.
However, he had been back at work less than a month when he was told he would have to compete for his job, which he had held for five years, in a merit selection process.
He was then told he was unsuccessful in reapplying for his job although he was asked to stay on last year and during the NSW storm and flood crisis, and lead the management response until it was over.
It has since been deemed the biggest such response in NSW history.
Lawyer Rick Mitry said he has been instructed to proceed with a damages claim against the government.
"He and his family have been traumatised by the events of the last couple of years," Mr Mitry said.
Mr Pearce said his case had been aggravated by the fact that the ICAC had named him on its website as being investigated, and it was "front page news", but it has never been reported publicly that he had been cleared.
"My family and I suffered substantial public humiliation, emotional and financial trauma," he said.
"Never did the system look after me and I was crucified publicly and professionally."
A spokeswoman for the ICAC said that the only jurisdiction the commission has was to make corrupt conduct findings.
"Further information on what the allegations were, the findings and recommendations can be found in the investigation report and associated material on the website," she said.
Posted by JR at 6:13 PM