A PRIVATE EYE who allegedly “spied” on Singleton councillors’ “coffee club” was also involved in a Singleton Council workers compensation investigation three months ago.
Newcastle-based investigator David Williams told The Argus that he was called in during April to get statements from eight council staff over an employee seeking recompense for a work injury.
Cr Fred Harvison triggered uproar in the council chambers on July 16 when he said a private eye had been hired to spy on councillors.
Cr Harvison said it was “heinous” and he would report it to the Independent Commission Against Corruption along with allegations of leaked councillor emails and an anonymous letter.
When told by The Argus that the private eye was involved in a council compensation case since he allegedly spied on councillors, Cr Harvison said: “That’s an operational matter, I’m not aware of it and it’s different to spying on councillors, there’s a vast difference.”
Cr Alison Howlett’s husband, Max, engaged the private eye in February in response to anonymous code of conduct complaints and plotting against her and deputy mayor Paul Nichols.
On March 5, Cr Howlett said she told mayor Sue Moore, general manager Lindy Hyam and assistant general manager Gary Thomson of some things the investigator had found.
Mr Williams said the coffee club job involved investigating two meetings in a Singleton coffee shop in February and another on March 1.
The meetings involved councillors Moore, Harvison, Lee Gallagher, Ruth Rogers and Godfrey Adamthwaite and former council assistant general manager Henry Wilson.
Mr Williams said he reported back to Mr Howlett and made no further inquiries involving Singleton councillors.
Cr Gallagher told The Argus after the council’s regular meeting on July 16: “I’m disgusted. For five months we were aware of a private investigator following us.”
Cr Adamthwaite told The Argus he and his wife had been “jumping at shadows” for months.
Mr Williams said, in his opinion, it was a misrepresentation of the truth for anyone to imply his investigation of Singleton councillors extended past coffee club meetings on February 16 and 23 and March 1.
The Argus was unable to obtain comment last Friday or yesterday from Cr Gallagher and Cr Adamthwaite declined to comment.
Mr Williams said the coffee club inquiry and workers compensation matter were not connected and he did not follow anyone or use a voice recording device during either assignment.
When told this, Cr Harvison said he “felt” as if he were being followed because the investigator had been watching his coffee meetings in February and March 1.
For the workers compensation matter, Mr Williams was hired by the council’s insurance company through an investigation company.
Henry Wilson was one of the people Mr Williams took a statement from for the workers compensation matter.
Mr Thomson confirmed that Mr Williams was engaged in the compensation case but stressed “we didn’t pick him”.
“That was done by the insurance company, they have to use due diligence to see if a claim is valid or not,” Mr Thomson said.
Mr Williams said he was licensed by the police to operate as an independent private investigator and was an experienced and professional factual investigator who took pride in his work.
His investigations in the workers compensation and coffee club matters were both legal.
The coffee club, for instance, met in a public place were people could be overheard and where there was no expectation of privacy, Mr Williams said.