ICAC makes no findings of corrupt conduct in relation to the Hon. Craig Knowles MP

Wednesday 13 April 2005

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has made no findings of corrupt conduct in relation to the Hon. Craig Knowles MP as a result of its investigation into allegations the former Minister for Health threatened and intimidated certain nurses.

The ICAC examined the conduct of Mr Knowles towards four nurses – Nola Fraser, Sheree Martin, Yvonne Quinn and Valerie Owen – from Campbelltown and Camden Hospitals during a meeting at his electoral office on 5 November 2002; as well as his conduct towards Fairfield Hospital nurse Giselle Simmons during a University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) workshop on 14 February 2003 and her subsequent treatment.

It was alleged that on each of these occasions Mr Knowles threatened and/or intimidated the nurses who had complained to him about perceived maladministration and misconduct at public hospitals within the former South Western Sydney Area Health Service.

However, the ICAC concluded that on each of these two occasions Mr Knowles did not threaten, intimidate or attempt to intimidate any person, or engage in any other conduct that could reasonably be regarded as improper.

At the electoral office meeting, the ICAC accepts that Mr Knowles put forcefully to Ms Fraser the importance of her being able to show that what she said was true. However the weight of evidence, constituted in the main by testimony of Ms Quinn, Ms Owen and John Chalhoub, strongly supports the conclusion Mr Knowles' responses were appropriate, that they reflected his concern about the allegations and that he did not threaten or intimidate Ms Fraser or Ms Martin.

It was also alleged by Ms Simmons that detrimental action was improperly taken against her because of the complaints she made to Mr Knowles at the UTS workshop. The ICAC found no evidence Mr Knowles directed anyone to take detrimental action against Ms Simmons. It also found the available evidence fell short of establishing that any other person improperly took detrimental action against Ms Simmons.

In his report Assistant Commissioner the Hon. John Clarke QC said the findings shouldn't be seen to reflect adversely on the credibility of any complainant.

"In the Commission's view, each [complainant] recounted honestly the events as they recalled them."

"The perceptions of those who believed that Mr Knowles behaved improperly were coloured by their great concern about the state of affairs in the hospitals where they worked, their belief that there was an urgent need to take steps to remedy the situation and their emotional responses to what they saw as crises," Mr Clarke said in the report.

These matters are part of a wide-ranging ICAC investigation into alleged misconduct associated with the former South Western Sydney Area Health Service. A further report will be prepared by the Commission in relation to other parts of the investigation.

Due to the narrow scope of this part of the investigation and the ultimate findings, there are no recommendations for corruption prevention.

Fact sheet

Investigation report