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Former Labor minister guilty of misconduct

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Former NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald has been found guilty of misconduct charges over a valuable Hunter Valley mining licence he granted in 2008 to a company chaired by his mate, ex-union boss John Maitland.

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Macdonald and Maitland went on trial on February 6 in the NSW Supreme Court over Macdonald’s move to grant the Maitland-chaired company Doyles Creek Mining Pty Ltd a coal exploration licence at Doyles Creek in the Hunter Valley.

The NSW Supreme Court jury handed down its decision on Thursday morning after going into deliberation on Friday, finding Macdonald guilty of two charges of misconduct in public office and Maitland guilty of two counts of being an accessory to the alleged misconduct.

The jury found Macdonald put the interest of his “mate” Maitland ahead of the interests of the state by granting the lucrative mining licence, when he was NSW mineral resources minister.

Macdonald had said his relationship with Maitland was professional and he did not regard him as a friend.

He said he saw Maitland at “various functions on an occasional basis”, adding “not social functions – they’ve always been work-related”.

Macdonald also told his misconduct trial that no one raised any issues with him before he signed the controversial licence, adding it had conditions attached that “would ensure the public interest and the state of NSW was protected”.

He said he was “satisfied” with the special conditions that the department had included in the licence, which at the time gave the minister power to intervene if the company deviated from the training mine.

“I read them and I accepted the advice from the department on the basis they would be strict conditions,” Macdonald said.

“That gave the power to the minister to strip the licence off the holders if they didn’t comply with the conditions of establishing a training mine.

“I think that was pretty straightforward,” he said.

– AAP

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