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Gladys Berejiklian, Daryl Maguire: Day NSW Premier gets to hit back at disgraced ex-lover arrives

If Sophie Callan's barbed questioning of witnesses over the last few days is anything to go by, she is champing at the bit to question Daryl Maguire today.  

Ms Callan is a key part of Gladys Berejiklian's legal team - and its lead attack dog - at the the Independent Commission Against Corruption's inquiry into the former premier NSW premier. 

On Monday she seemed to shock former deputy premier John Barilaro with an unexpected and very personal question at ICAC.

Mr Barilaro said in evidence that Ms Berejiklian should have disclosed her secret relationship with Mr Maguire, who at the time was the Liberal MP for Wagga Wagga. 

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian will appear before the ICAC inquiry into her on Friday

The ICAC is, in part, investigating if Ms Berejiklian engaged in conduct 'liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct' by Mr Maguire. 

Ms Callan sought to turn the tables on Mr Barilaro, asking if he had disclosed relationships of his own.

Mr Barilaro said he 'would have' disclosed any relationships, including family links.

'What about any other intimate personal relationships?' Ms Callan asked.

'That's a hard question because my relationships are with my family,' Mr Barilaro said.

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Mr Barilaro has done anything improper in his personal or professional lives.    

Sophie Callan SC arrives at the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing in Sydney on Wednesday, October 27

Ms Callan was one of 26 NSW barristers to be appointed senior counsel last year. She is best known known for prosecuting former Labor ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald over matters arising from ICAC inquiries. 

Obeid and Macdonald are both now in jail. 

Today's ICAC proceedings are highly anticipated as it will be the first time Australia has heard from Mr Maguire in more than a year. 

His last public appearance was when he was the subject of an ICAC inquiry into whether, between 2012 and 2018, he engaged in conduct that involved a breach of public trust by using his public office to improperly gain a benefit for himself and/or entities close to him. 

On October 14 2020, Mr Maguire admitted he used his position as an MP and a parliamentary secretary to make money for himself and his associates. 

Appearing as a witness at that inquiry, Ms Berejiklian agreed that she had been in a 'close personal relationship' with Mr Maguire from 2015 until 2018. 

Mr Maguire has barely been seen since - except for when Daily Mail Australia took photos of him pacing around his yard holding a shotgun while smoking a cigarette.

Daryl Maguire, pictured here exclusively by Daily Mail Australia, will give evidence to ICAC on Thursday

Ms Berejiklian is set to front ICAC herself on Friday. The ICAC is, in part, investigating if she engaged in conduct 'liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct' by Mr Maguire. 

Everything the commission has heard in the first eight days of testimony - some of which has shocked even the keenest observers of NSW politics - has been leading to the inquiry's last days and its star witnesses.  

Mr Maguire is the last stop before the ICAC gets to Ms Berejiklian, and therefore the last chance for Ms Callan to cast doubt on the questions at the heart of the hearings about whether or not her client engaged in corrupt conduct. 

ICAC is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian 

1. Engaged in conduct between 2012 and 2018 that was 'liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct' by former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire, with whom she was in a close personal relationship between 2015 and 2018

2. Exercised her official functions dishonestly or partially by refusing to exercise her duty to report any reasonable suspicions about Mr Maguire to the ICAC

3. Exercised any of her official functions partially in connection with two multimillion-dollar grants in Mr Maguire's electorate, to the Australian Clay Target Association Inc and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music

On Tuesday Ms Callan made it plain she was not happy the start of Ms Berejiklian's evidence to ICAC had been delayed by 24 hours.   

The former premier was due to front the probe into her on Thursday, but this was pushed back to Friday due to  'investigative reasons'.

Ms Callan said she is seeking procedural fairness regarding the inquiry into whether or not Ms Berejiklian complied with a legal duty to report suspected corruption to the watchdog.

Section 11 of the ICAC Act states that a NSW government minister and other public officials have a duty to report any matter the person suspects on reasonable grounds concerns or may concern corrupt conduct.

Ms Callan said Ms Berejiklian's lawyers wrote to the ICAC asking for further information about this but had received a 'wholly unsatisfactory' response.

She said Ms Berejiklian was 'entitled to know what it is that is alleged in respect of section 11'.

In reply, ICAC counsel Scott Robertson said 'these proceedings are not a trial' and the correspondence contained a 'fundamental misapprehension' about ICAC's role, which is that it was seeking to find the truth and was not a prosecutorial body.

Ms Callan added that the watchdog had received evidence from 'seven men' to date about whether Ms Berejiklian was in a position of conflict in light of her secret relationship with Mr Maguire.

She indicated Ms Berejiklian's team would argue this evidence could not 'rationally bear' on ICAC Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl's assessment as to whether a conflict of interest in fact existed.

Ms McColl, who is presiding over the inquiry, did not accept that ICAC needed to change the course its inquiry was taking.

On Wednesday, Ms Callan questioned senior public servant Gary Barnes about when, as according to his earlier evidence, he had inferred Ms Berejiklian had an interest in the funding of a Wagga Wagga gun club project being investigated at ICAC. 

'After there had been several requests for updates on the proposal,' Mr Barnes replied.

Ms Callan put it to him that he had never spoken directly to the premier about whether she had an interest in the project. 

'No, I did not,' he replied. 

Blunt, pointed questions such as how Ms Callan challenged Mr Barnes are what is in store for Mr Maguire today.