Disgraced former NSW minister Eddie Obeid wasn’t the victim of a miscarriage of justice at his trial for misconduct in public office, says the barrister who prosecuted the case.
Peter Neil SC told five Appeal Court judges that the experienced defence legal team made tactical decisions, including “not to put Mr Obeid’s neck in a noose” by bringing up the parliamentary code of conduct at his 2016 trial.
Obeid, 73, was jailed for at least three years in December after being found guilty of lobbying a senior public servant in 2007 over lucrative Circular Quay leases without revealing his family’s stake in the outlets.
The former ALP powerbroker has challenged his conviction and sentence in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, which reserved its decision on Wednesday after a three-day hearing.
Obeid’s new barrister, Guy Reynolds SC, put forward 13 appeal grounds including that the trial judge made legal errors in his directions to the jury.
He described as “dumbfounding” a failure to have the MPs’ code of conduct put before the jury, saying the code did not outlaw Obeid’s behaviour.
But Mr Neil said the code “was such a danger” to Obeid that “it would come very close on its own to guaranteeing a conviction”.
“If you are going to do that, the Crown submits, you may as well plead guilty,” he said.
“There was no conceivable miscarriage of justice arising out of the fact the code was not introduced.”
Complaints about the trial judge’s directions were “matters of semantics”, he added.
Mr Neil also rejected a claim the issues in Obeid’s case were within the “exclusive cognisance” of the NSW parliament and should not have been determined in the Supreme Court.