A-G breaks silence on ‘silly error’ in Palmer, McGowan case

Attorney General John Quigley has apologised to Parliament for what he said was a “silly little error” while giving evidence in the Federal Court at Mark McGowan’s defamation trial with Clive Palmer.

Mr Quigley broke his silence one week after Justice Michael Lee said the court performance of the State’s first law office was “confused and confusing”, and he could not be relied upon as a witness.

Justice Lee said Mr Quigley — who requested a do-over to correct part of his testimony in the Sydney trial – “gave contradictory evidence” but rejected claims from lawyers for Mr Palmer that he had been intentionally misleading.

On the first day of Parliament since the winter break, the National-Liberal Opposition quoted the judgment as it ratcheted up calls for Mark McGowan to sack Mr Quigley over the episode.

Camera IconWA Attorney General John Quigley during question time at WA Parliament House. Credit: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

The Premier, however, again defended his colleague, saying Mr Quigley’s record of reform as A-G was “unsurpassed” and those in public life should not be sacked over “mistakes” and “errors”.

Asked by Nationals WA leader Mia Davies why he should keep his job, Mr Quigley told Question Time that Justice Lee had accepted he had made an “honest mistake”.

“I felt silly that I made an error under pressure. It was an honest error, and as soon as I had realised I had made this, I sought to correct it — I’m not perfect,” the A-G told Parliament.

He said his “silly error” was not an issue in the trial, that he “felt embarrassed” and offered an apology to the court and Parliament’s Legislative Assembly.

“When one makes an honest mistake, what should one do? Move immediately to correct it as soon as you realise that you’ve made an error, which is what I did,” Mr Quigley said.

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