Attacked: Retired commissioner David Ipp has spoken out about criticism he faced. Photo: Wolter Peeters
After presiding over investigations into some of the wealthiest and most powerful figures in the country, David Ipp, QC, is no shrinking violet. But the recently retired corruption commissioner said he was unprepared for how bitterly his targets would fight back.
Last year, mining tycoon Travers Duncan unsuccessfully sued Mr Ipp, alleging correspondence he had exchanged with the NSW government had impeded his impartiality as head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Mr Duncan had been investigated - and was eventually found to be corrupt - by the ICAC for deliberately hiding the involvement of ALP powerbroker Eddie Obeid in a coal deal that netted the Obeids $30 million.
''The low point was being sued by Mr Travers Duncan,'' Mr Ipp told ABC's Four Corners.
Mr Duncan had tried to argue that the ICAC had been biased after it advised the NSW government that it could delay granting a crucial coal licence until after the conclusion of its investigation.
But in July last year, the Chief Justice of the High Court, Robert French, rejected the proposition.
''It went to three courts and he lost before every judge in every court [but] that didn't mean it was a breeze,'' Mr Ipp said.
But there have also been significant high points for Mr Ipp, whose recent inquiries have been recognised as among the most significant in the country's history. ''There is something about Operation Jasper [into Eddie Obeid and former resources minister Ian Macdonald] that I think that I can be proud or that ICAC can be proud of,'' he said.
''It all started from a report by a prisoner who simply told ICAC that there were strong rumours in the Bylong Valley that somebody had made a great deal of money from inside information about coal and from that little acorn a pretty large oak tree grew.''
Mr Ipp, who retired in January citing ill health, said he had been aware that the inquiries over which he presided were focused on Labor Party figures. ''The fact is that the present run of inquiries involving the Liberal Party were all commenced at least a year before I left.''