IT would cost Singleton Council up to $30,000 for one day in the Supreme Court to try and reverse its own suppression order on the identity of person who made the $1million code of conduct complaint against deputy mayor Paul Nichols.
And there’s no guarantee it would be successful.
These points were included in advice to last night’s regular council meeting by the council’s solicitor Daryl Gray.
By Argus press time yesterday, councillors had not made a decision on whether or not to apply to have the suppression lifted.
A report to the council meeting by business support director Anthony Egan said the Supreme Court case had, to the end of last month, cost the council more than $620,500 in legal costs alone.
Mr Gray’s advice recommended the council seek more advice from a barrister on the likely prospects of success in pursuing an application to revoke the suppression.
Mr Gray also recommended that a barrister be employed to make such an application.
His advice says it would take three, or more months, before a court hearing could be held.
Judge Monika Schmidt imposed the order in August last year on behalf of the council and its then general manager Scott Greensill.
Councillors learned of the application after it was made.
Several councillors and numerous members of the Singleton community have since asked for the complainant’s name to be revealed.
The original anonymous complaint, made in May 2010, accused Cr Nichols of acting unlawfully, dishonestly and unethically and leaking confidential information to two brothers the council was in dispute with over a rural property access.
Cr Nichols denied any wrongdoing and took Supreme Court action to address a lack of procedural fairness.
The Supreme Court quashed the council’s report and the state government threw out the original complaint last week because there was no evidence to support its allegations.
At an extraordinary meeting four months ago, councillors unanimously agreed to investigate lifting the suppression order.
Mr Gray told that meeting that if a joint application was made with Cr Nichols to lift the suppression the process should be relatively quick.
It would also be a very expensive process for anyone to appeal against lifting the suppression, Mr Gray said.