Former Minister Ian Macdonald Freed Ahead Of Expected Misconduct Retrial
After his conviction for misconduct in public office was quashed, former minister Ian Macdonald has been granted bail and has walked free from jail.
The 69-year-old left Long Bay jail earlier on Monday, after serving almost two years of a maximum decade-long sentence.
Across town, mate and former union boss John Maitland -- originally given six years jail -- walked out of Silverwater prison.
Both men are free to face a re-trial, after a panel of five Supreme Court justices found the original trial judge had misdirected the jury at their hearing in 2017, and therefore the verdicts were unreasonable.
Macdonald had been found guilty of two counts of wilful misconduct in public office, while Maitland was jailed on two charges of being an accessory to the alleged misconduct.
Macdonald may be innocent, but he’s still accused of betraying the state when he held the minerals portfolio more than a decade ago, when he granted a Hunter Valley mining licence to a company chaired by Maitland.
In court, Macdonald's wife burst into tears when she was told her husband was coming home. She told reporters outside she was overwhelmed, while Maitland's daughter -- who was also in court -- was equally relieved.
The panel of five judges found on Monday that at the original trial, the jury was misdirected because they were invited to speculate about competing motives. Macdonald's lawyer successfully argued it was never proven that his intentions were "improper" and in fact the former minister gained nothing from the deal.
Macdonald's legal team also claimed evidence gathered by the Independent Commission Against Corruption gave prosecutors an unfair advantage.
NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman spoke after the decision, saying that "integrity and honesty and transparency and accountability are foremost in our minds."
"The people of New South Wales are entitled to expect that their governments act in the public interest," he said.
Macdonald and Maitland have to report to police once a week, have had their passports confiscated and can't contact any witnesses.
Both men will be back in court this Friday, where a re-trial date is expected to be set.