Taxpayers would now face a million dollar plus legal claim arising out of the “Stashed Cash” affair involving the actions of Attorney-General Michael Atkinson and the Rann Government.
Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Rob Lucas, said today this legal claim was clearly a major embarrassment for Mr Atkinson and Premier Rann who had staunchly defended Mr Atkinson throughout the whole affair.
“Lawyers acting for former senior public servant, Kate Lennon, have now lodged a statement of claim in the Supreme Court against the Rann Government,” Mr Lucas said.
“The remedies sought under the Statement of Claim are for damages, interest and costs and highlight Ms Lennon had a five year contract worth $270,736 per year of which only about seven months had been served.”
The Statement of Claim included the claim Ms Lennon had acted in accordance with the advice of the Crown Solicitor and that she “had advised the Attorney-General that she had put aside money in the Crown Solicitor’s Trust Account (CSTA) for specified committed projects to meet Government objectives.”
Mr Lucas said it should be remembered that Mr Atkinson had given evidence under oath to the Auditor General that he did not know the CSTA even existed. This claim was made even though his Transition to Government briefing folder included reference to the Account and two Annual Reports for his own Attorney-General’s Department (and two Auditor General’s Reports) which he provided to the Parliament which also included references to the Account.
“Ms Lennon’s Statement of Claim highlights a meeting with a Government representative – the Commissioner for Public Employment – on 13 October 2004 in which, amongst other things, she claims the Commissioner told her he was “the smiling assassin” and that it was the Premier’s intention to terminate her employment agreement,” he said.
“One of the legal bases of the claim is that the Rann Government’s actions constituted a ‘constructive dismissal’ of Ms Lennon.
“If this claim is successful and significant costs are incurred by taxpayers, then in my view, Mr Atkinson’s position will be untenable – he would have to resign as Attorney-General and if he didn’t, Premier Rann would have to sack him,” Mr Lucas said.