ICAC 'lacked authority to seize papers'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 March, 1996, 12:00am

THE ICAC seized documents from a firm under investigation without the legal authority to do so, the High Court heard yesterday.

Philip Dykes, for the retail firm, said a search warrant issued by Deputy Commissioner Jim Buckle did not contain the necessary information.

It is believed to be the first time the decision-making process involved in issuing such a warrant has been challenged in the courts.

Accounting files seized by the Independent Commission Against Corruption have been sealed until the legal action is resolved. If the company wins, the judge may order that the documents be returned.

The court heard ICAC officers raided the company's offices on February 12.

They were armed with a warrant relating to one employee of the firm and a worker from another. Concerns were raised when ICAC officers extended their search to documents which did not appear to fall within the warrant's ambit.

A second warrant was issued two hours later in much broader terms, the court heard. It is this warrant that is being challenged.

Mr Dykes said it was not specific enough on the basis of the search.

Ian McWalters, for the ICAC, said the terms of the warrant did not affect the right of the commission to seize the documents.

Mr Justice Seagroatt will rule at a later date.