Palaszczuk engulfed in CCC probe into Newman defamation leak

QUEENSLAND'S Crime and Corruption Commission looks set to investigate the offices of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath.

The investigation will attempt to establish who leaked details of a confidential settlement in a defamation suit which showed the taxpayer had paid $525,000 over comments made by Campbell Newman and Jarrod Bleijie. 

Last week it was revealed the former Premier and Attorney-General had been sued by two Gold Coast lawyers.

Reports said they had defamed the lawyers in question by insinuating they were involved in criminal activity when what they were really doing was providing legal services to bikies made national headlines. 

Under government conventions both Mr Bleijie and Mr Newman were bailed out by the taxpayer with the settlement not costing either of them a cent. 

At the time Coalition sources queried where the leak came from.

They said reports the cost of the settlement could have been reduced if the former government had offered an apology were false - as the lawyers involved had not requested one.

Now the CCC has confirmed it will investigate who leaked details of the settlement to The Guardian Australia. 

"The CCC can confirm that it has completed its assessment of complaints received in relation to the alleged leaking of confidential information relating to a settlement of a defamation case against the former Premier and former Attorney-general," a spokesman said.

"Upon completion of this assessment, the CCC has commenced an investigation into the matter that was raised in Parliament today by the Shadow Minister for Employment, Industrial Relations, Skills and Training and Fair Trading (Jarrod Bleijie)."

Speaking on the floor of Parliament earlier today Mr Bleijie explained why he had referred the matter to the CCC and claimed the leak came from either the office of Ms Palaszczuk or Ms D'Ath. 

"The Premier has recently publicly commented on a matter that I was involved in," Mr Bleijie told Parliament.

"Her comments stem from a report that was published in The Guardian on 16 May 2016.

"So important is this issue to the integrity of the machinery of government that I wrote to the CCC about this matter.

"My complaint concerns the possible breach of confidentiality that I allege has occurred in either the Premier's office or the Attorney-General's office."

Mr Belijie also defended the fact the government had footed the bill for the defamation settlement. 

"It is easy for someone not armed with the current correct facts to suggest that former ministers should pay back the money, particularly if matters before the court are ultimately settled by the parties," he said.

"For a former minister to correct the record or publicise the facts would put them in breach of their own settlement agreement.

"The unauthorised disclosure of confidential agreements that are designed to protect the integrity of the executive government and its principal officers should be of concern to all Queenslanders.

"The release of this government-held information jeopardises the ability of present and future ministers from carrying out their role and not properly advancing the public interest as they see from time to time."

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