Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Whistleblower rejects payment offer

Gillian Sneddon … described offer as "an absolute insult".

THE whistleblower who was sacked after raising the alarm about the now convicted pedophile Milton Orkopoulos has been offered a $100,000 payment by the State Government.

The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, independent MP Richard Torbay, made the confidential offer two weeks ago. It comprises a $33,166.06 "apology" payment and a redundancy entitlement of $66,830.94.

Ms Sneddon, 51, Orkopoulos's former electorate officer in Swansea, called the offer "an absolute insult".

She has been on stress leave and unable to work since she was locked out of Orkopoulos's office in 2006, after he became aware she was helping police with their investigation into the then Aboriginal affairs minister.

"How can I get my life back together when this offer shows they're not really concerned at all?" she said yesterday.

The unemployed Ms Sneddon said she was struggling to pay her bills and her only income was a workers' compensation payment of about $600 a fortnight. Her salary as an electorate officer before she went on stress leave was almost $70,000 a year.

She was arranging to sell her Swansea Heads house, which she has lived in for about 20 years, because she could not afford the mortgage repayments, she said.

Mr Torbay, who has inherited the issue from the previous speaker, the Labor MP John Aquilina, said he had not received a formal reply to the offer.

"I made the offer in good faith, and she is still able to make her workers' compensation claim," Mr Torbay said yesterday. "Whilst this issue predates me as Speaker, I believed an ex gratia payment is appropriate."

Ms Sneddon was sacked by Parliament the same day she began to give evidence at the Orkopoulos trial.

The offer came after a meeting with Mr Torbay in April about her plight. The payment is conditional on Ms Sneddon signing a deed of release against Parliament but leaves the way open for her to take action against Parliament's insurer, Allianz.

Ms Sneddon still has a submission for a workers' compensation case with Parliament and Allianz. She said no amount had been specified in the claim and denied a report saying she was claiming $600,000.

She has accused the Labor Party and her former employer, the Parliament, of in effect abandoning her after it became public she was helping police collect evidence.

She also said she had been made a pariah by her former colleagues and her difficulties ignored by the State Government.

"This is all because of me being a decent human being and telling the truth," she said.

Ms Sneddon has not limited her criticism to the NSW Labor Party. She has also criticised the clerk of the Parliament, Russell Grove, and another parliamentary officer over the Orkopoulos investigation.

Mr Grove has denied the allegations and cleared himself of any wrongdoing in a report he wrote at the request of Mr Torbay last month.

Orkopoulos was found guilty of 28 pedophilia and drugs charges in March and will be sentenced tomorrow.


Orkopoulos betrayed me: victim
Sexual abuse victims of former NSW MP Milton Orkopoulos have told a court his attacks were a betrayal of their trust. Orkopoulos appeared in the Newcastle District Court today for a sentencing hearing on 40 child sex and drugs charges. He was convicted in March of 28 offences, after pleading guilty to a further two at the outset of his trial.

The last act of Orkopoulos: skewering the Darkinjung
The murky story of former NSW Aboriginal Affairs Minister Milton Orkopoulos, who is awaiting sentence on 28 sex and drug charges, is becoming murkier. One of his last ministerial decisions was to sign, just before midnight – and seven hours prior to his arrest – an instrument to appoint a handpicked administrator for the Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council on the NSW Central Coast.

Orkopolous whistleblower sues NSW Govt
The aide who blew the whistle on convicted paedophile and former New South Wales Labor minister Milton Orkopolous is suing the State Government, claiming she can never work again.

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