It’s hard to know why NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has taken such a body blow for someone as inconsequential as Peter Grimshaw.
Grimshaw finally resigned from his job as BOF’s communications director yesterday, after a departmental report found that he had breached the ministerial code of conduct by forwarding to his partner an email from the Premier.
Director-General of the Premier’s department, Chris Eccles, said that Grimshaw’s breach of the code was “unambiguous, material and serious”.
But there have been weeks of lurid and salacious headlines about the goings-on at the Star Casino, all thanks to Grimshaw and what appears to be his personal vendetta against the man he blamed for causing him to quit his job, former Star managing director Sid Vaikunta.
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BOF and Grimshaw are old friends, dating back to the four years they spent together in the early ’90s, working in Bruce Baird’s office in state parliament. But for the NSW Premier to have employed Grimshaw, who had worked at the Star for 16 years as its media director, shows a lack of political judgment.
NSW opposition leader John Robertson has had a field day with the evidence from the latest inquiry into the Star Casino, principally text messages from Grimshaw to his partner saying that BOF was going to “smash Star” and give their management a “wake-up call”. The former tabloid journalist also admitted using information he had received during the course of his employment at Star to assist in the planting of adverse stories about it in the media.
All of this shows a lack of professional judgment that should have rendered him ineligible to sit at the top table of the most powerful politician in the state.
Yesterday afternoon and this morning’s evidence was an assorted chocolate box of sex and drugs; common topics when you are discussing a casino.
The current inquiry, by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, is looking at the sacking of Vaikunta on February 2 this year. He was dismissed after allegedly manhandling one of his female employees in the back seat of a limousine, and two days later making inappropriate remarks to another. The complicating factor is that the second complainant, who worked in the HR department of the Star, is Grimshaw’s life partner.
HR senior manager Louise Marshall said that after details of the investigation had been leaked, they had searched the email in box of the second complainant, who was married, and discovered that not only was she in a relationship with Grimshaw, but she was also romantically involved with another man, to whom she was also sending sensitive business information.
All of this may shed some light on a tantalising piece of evidence from former Star dealer Tim Roche, who had alluded to a “promotion the Star was putting on in relation to V-agra”.
The inquiry heard this morning from James Robbins, who is employed at the casino as a gaming manager. He was asked about an incident on the morning of October 30, 2010. It’s long and complicated, but the crux of it is that Robbins and a gaggle of employees were alerted by a cleaner to the existence of a line of suspicious white powder on the shelf of a toilet in the high rollers area.
The powder was examined by several people and then put in a plastic bag, whereupon a report was made. A few weeks later, Robbins was told that the substance was concrete dust. Almost a year later, the matter was still dragging on, with Robbins being questioned by senior staff members about a statement he had made that he had put his finger in it and it tasted like cocaine — which he later explained had been a joke.
Marshall said yesterday that the whole Vaikunta affair had “more twists and turns than the Great Ocean Road”, and she is probably right. Robertson has called for the Premier to appear and give evidence, but the odds of that happening are about as likely as Robbo winning the next election.
The inquiry continues.