Rookie Perth editor, Paul
Armstrong, is back in the firing line. But it’s still not certain whether his
back is up against wall. He and his top political
reporters face the prospect of legal action from WA Police and Justice Minister,
John D’Orazio, over their claims that he was a “Godfather” figure who brokered a business
deal that paved the way for two friends to share Bayswater Council carpet
laying contracts.

Late yesterday, Armstrong was handed a letter by a Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) officer
demanding he hand over all evidence that The
West Australian
has linking Mr D’Orazio to corrupt activities. And D’Orazio has
given The West until this morning to
publish a page one apology.

Premier Alan
Carpenter has come out backing his minister. “I spoke to him
[Mr D’Orazio] about this matter. He gave me a very full account of what had
happened and I believe him,” Mr Carpenter said. But The West is holding its ground.

The paper claimed D’Orazio was the Godfather alluded to during a June
2003 CCC hearing that was investigating corrupt activities by Adam Spagnolo, a
one-time campaign manager for the minister and a Bayswater Council employee. The West has alleged Spagnolo and long-time family friend, Tony Drago, were negotiated into a mutually beneficial
partnership by D’Orazio.

D’Orazio
concedes that a meeting took place in his electorate office, but insists
that all he did was try to resolve a spat between Spagnolo and
Drago. But does The West
have conclusive counter-evidence that D’Orazio’s meeting with two long-time pals
was
about gaining and carving up council carpet laying contracts?

If so, the CCC wants The West’s evidence and
Armstrong is safe from Mr D’Orazio’s legal moves. If not, well … the
settlement would probably be in the hundreds of thousands.

Peter Fray

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