By Bridget Brady
CASEY councillor Kevin Bradford has been called on to resign and may face charges of breaching the Local Government Act after a damning Ombudsman’s report revealed he improperly disclosed confidential council tender information to a media outlet.
The report, tabled in State Parliament last week, found Cr Bradford revealed Star News Group’s successful bidding price to be the media partner for the MRA Cranbourne GP Run to local Leader newspaper editor Peter Strachan.
If found to have breached the Local Government Act, Cr Bradford faces a maximum penalty of $60,000 or five years’ imprisonment.
According to the report, the incident came to light when Mr Strachan mistakenly copied a Casey Council officer in an email, revealing his inside knowledge of the confidential information.
Phone records show Cr Bradford called Mr Strachan’s direct line minutes after a meeting held on 10 August to decide which of the two companies would be the major media partner for last year’s event.
Cr Bradford denied he disclosed Star News Group’s quote during the phone call and only informed Mr Strachan the Leader was unsuccessful.
But soon after the call Mr Strachan sent an email to Leader staff, and the council officer, that revealed his knowledge of the accurate figure.
“Our man’s just come back to us. Says we’ve gone in too high with that $2400 and at this stage we’ve lost out to The Star at $1500. We won on every other front,” the email said.
The report found Mr Strachan attempted to recall the email from the council officer’s inbox, but this was unsuccessful as the officer had already opened it.
Ombudsman George Brouwer also found Cr Bradford made three requests to a council officer in March to obtain previous sponsorship contract details between the council and Star News Group.
Mr Strachan declined to respond to the Ombudsman’s questions about the email and his contact with Cr Bradford “on the grounds that to do so may incriminate him.” The Ombudsman said he read nothing into this fact.
In the report, Cr Bradford said it was important to note his phone calls to Mr Strachan were made after the decision to appoint Star News Group as the media partner.
The matter was referred to the Minister for Local Government, Richard Wynne, and will now be investigated by the Local Government Inspectorate.
Cr Bradford and Mr Strachan declined to comment to the Gazette.
Star News Group is the publisher of the Gazette.