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In-house department in email stoush

In-house department in email stoush

Lawyers on both sides of a stoush over alleged unlawful access of a solicitor's emails within the legal department of NSW Maritime have told Lawyers Weekly that improper suggestions have been…

Lawyers on both sides of a stoush over alleged unlawful access of a solicitor's emails within the legal department of NSW Maritime have told Lawyers Weekly that improper suggestions have been made about their behaviour in the media.

The Sydney Morning Herald reportedon Tuesday that Paul Bertram, a solicitor at NSW Maritime was back at work, after being stood down for complaining that his boss, general counsel Tonette Kelly, had unlawfully gained access to his computer and distributed his emails to colleagues.

Responding in their personal capacity, Kelly and the two lawyers, Louise Kirychenko and Bonnie Dacombe, told Lawyers Weekly that Bertram was removed from his job as a solicitor in March 2009 and had only recently returned to a non-legal job in a different location to the legal branch.

But Bertram told Lawyers Weekly that these claims are incorrect and that he had instead requested to be placed in a different section or department until ICAC and the police had made their investigations. "It wasn't a decision that Ms Kelly made to remove me, it was actually a request I made to the chief executive - which he acceded to," he said.

The SMH article also reported on a review carried out by the manager of Maritime's investigations unit, Craig Purdon, who said "the only person in the Level 11 Kent Street office at the time of the emails was sent was Ms Kelly". However, in their statement, the trio have pointed out that the internal investigation did not look at the issue of who was in the building.

"The police investigation which was conducted after the charges were laid indicates, however, that there were potentially 50 people in the building. It also shows that Ms Kelly was not in the building as there is no entry log for her, although there is an exit log," the statement said.

Bertram challenged the accuracy of the finding that Kelly was not in the building at the time of the alleged offences in light of the fact that there was a recorded exit time for her, but no entry record.

The review, the SMH reported, also said Kelly, Kirychenko and Dacombe all received emails on 11 February but would not discuss how they got them Kirychenko and Dacombe refute this and have stated they gave a report to the internal investigator and police.

Kelly is facing court next week after being charged with four counts of unauthorised use of Bertram's computer and will defend the charges, the SMH reported.

Check back with Lawyers Weekly for more updates on this story.

- Sarah Sharples

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