Protections for complainants
People reporting suspected corrupt conduct have rights and are entitled to legal protection.
Reports to the ICAC about suspected corrupt conduct should be made in good faith and kept confidential. Additional protections are afforded to NSW public officials who make disclosures under the provisions of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994. Go to Protections for public officials for further information.
Some individuals may feel they are protected if they make an anonymous complaint.
The ICAC aims to treat all information received and all sources of information confidentially.
In some cases, however, this may not be possible. When conducting an investigation, the ICAC must allow those suspected of corruption to respond to the allegations and may need to disclose the name of the person who complained and the nature of their complaint. The ICAC will, however, consider the views of the claimant before doing anything that could identify them.
Please note that the ICAC, in exercising its functions, must have regard to the public interest and the prevention of breaches of trust as being its paramount concerns. If to discharge its functions properly the ICAC needs to disclose information to identify the complainant, the ICAC will do so.
The Defamation Act 2005 protects people who give the ICAC information about suspected corrupt conduct in the NSW public sector. It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that it was published on an occasion of absolute privilege such as publication to the ICAC.
Complainants also have legal protection under the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988.
Sections 93 and 94 of the ICAC Act make it a criminal offence to:
- threaten or use, cause, inflict or procure violence, punishment, damage, loss or disadvantage to anyone who has given the Commission information or assisted us in other ways
- dismiss or disadvantage anyone in their employment because they have assisted the ICAC.
While a complaint made to the ICAC in good faith is protected from defamation proceedings, no protection against defamation is provided if the complaint (which may be a defamatory statement) or material is made or published in another forum. Penalties may apply if a report is deliberately false or misleading.
Making matters known publicly through the media or other means could potentially compromise an ICAC investigation. Publicity may lead to the concealment, destruction or alteration of important evidence.
Generally, the ICAC will neither confirm nor deny that a particular complaint has been received. The ICAC cannot, for operational reasons, comment on any matter that is the subject of ongoing investigation or consideration, or where it is not in the public interest for the matter to become publicly known.