THE Corruption and Crime Commission says conflicting evidence makes it impossible to determine whether Perth councillor James Limnios attempted to bribe colleague Reece Harley not to run for deputy lord mayor.
The CCC also dismissed an allegation of misconduct against Cr Harley, with Cr Limnios’s complaint being described as “selective and misleading”.
Cr Harley gave evidence to the CCC that Cr Limnios asked him not to run and told him “look mate if it’s about the money, I’m happy to split the deputy allowance with you or put you on a consultancy”.
He says he told Cr Limnios “look James I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about financial transactions,” and claimed Cr Limnios replied “no, no, no, that’s not what I meant”.
Councillors Jim Adamos, Lexi Barton and Jemma Green told the CCC Cr Harley had told them about the bribe shortly afterwards, and said he would report it to CEO Martin Mileham.
Cr Limnios gave “unequivocal sworn evidence” to the CCC there was no such conversation.
The CCC report states “Cr Harley’s evidence that a bribe was offered is credible. Cr Limnios’ denial that a bribe was offered is also credible. In the absence of a verified recording of their conversation, the Commission is unable to determine which account is correct”.
The CCC reported that if Cr Limnios had been found guilty he could have faced two years’ prison and a fine of $24,000.
Following Cr Harley’s complaint, Cr Limnios lodged his own alleging Cr Harley had been offering councillors support for their favoured committee positions if they supported his tilt for deputy lord mayor.
Cr Harley did send an email to all councillors ahead of that meeting asking for their preferred committee positions in order to prepare for Tuesday’s meeting.
After examining the email, and interviewing other councillors, the CCC found there was nothing improper in the email, with no promises made, and no inducements offered.
The Commission was critical of Cr Limnios’ evidence against Cr Harley, calling his letter to the CEO “selective and misleading”.
The CCC report said “there is no evidence to support Cr Limnios’ allegations against Cr Harley. Had he spoken with other councillors, and based on their sworn evidence to the Commission, each would have told him they were not offered any inducement to vote for Cr Harley as deputy lord mayor.
“Councillor Limnios read into the Harley email something sinister that bears no relationship to the actual words and to the recollections of individual councillors as to what Cr Harley had said he was doing by contacting them.
“There is no evidence to support the allegations of serious misconduct against Cr Harley.”
It concluded “it is unlikely that Cr Harley offered Cr Limnios any inducement. He did not do so to any other councillor. The substantial probabilities are that no inducement of the kind alleged by Cr Limnios was offered.”
Cr Limnios told the CCC he might’ve misinterpreted the facts while under pressure that week.
Normally the CCC only releases a report where there is a finding of wrongdoing, but in this case it noted the public interest was served in knowing the commission had thoroughly investigated the allegation.
by DAVID BELL