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City Desk
9 February, 2010  

You didn’t need an ICAC inquiry to discover that the McGurk tape story was largely a pile of old cobblers … Here’s Justinian’s take on the tale from September last year … A cast of moth-eaten lags filled the blatts with desperado boasts of daring-do … All a delicious escape that signified nothing, at least not yet

imageThe Michael McGurk story, and its various colourful sprouts, has Sydney chattering – even a week after the man’s execution in “leafy” Cremorne.

The Sydney Morning Herald has led the charge and following the story is a bit like holding onto a tiger’s tail.

At the heart of the countless claims, counterclaims, colourful Sydney businessmen, old lags, spivs, all set against a backdrop of unpalatable restaurants, there is the tape.

On Saturday (Sept. 5) the Herald’s page one headline screeched, It could bring down the government.

McGurk was in possession of a tape “that had the potential to bring down the NSW government” and this may have been a reason why he was killed.

By now the description of the slain man had graduated from Friday’s “property developer” to Saturday’s “loan shark”.

As authority for the explosive quality of the tape colourful Sydney businessman Jim Byrnes was cited: ”[It contains] really, really dangerous information … It could bring down the state government.”

Byrnes was clearly enjoying himself, even though he hadn’t actually heard all the tape.

The person implicated on it could “be stripped of everything” and end up “wearing orange overalls” for a lifetime, he claimed.

Kate McClymont wrote of her lunch with a “dead man” – in which the “sunny yellow and white decor of [the restaurant] Mad Cow seemed at odds with the shady tales of treachery and skulbuggery and threats, of which McGurk spoke”.

imageMcGurk (pic) “wanted to tell his side of the story over the firebombing of a house in Wolseley Road, Point Piper, over which he was facing criminal charges”.

Instead, we were taken down various side alleys – vague allegations of corruption involving Labor politicians, assertions against the police who investigated McGurk in relation to various fire bombings and assaults, and how anxious he was about being killed.

The DPP subsequently dropped two charges of firebombing properties and three charges of assault against McGurk.

Nicholas Cowdery was expected to release a statement tomorrow morning (Friday, Sept. 11) explaining his decision for doing so, but has since thought better of it.

But the story about the tape kept shifting as more dramatic personae entered the theatre.

By Sunday the Fairfax newspaper had added “standover man” to “slain loan shark” in describing McGurk.

He also turned out to be an alcoholic, cocaine user and prostitute supplier.

The explosive tape had also been handed over the police.

The language was getting noticeably softer:

“Last night, a source close to the case told The Sun-Herald the tape could implicate senior government figures, although the contents have yet to be verified.”

imageOn Monday, The Sydney Morning Herald reported Jim Byrnes as saying that McGurk was prone to “gild the lilly” and had a habit of “exaggerating”.

The tubby fixer Graham (Whatever It Takes) Richardson had also entered the cast.

The former Labor senator said that McGurk (now a “slain standover man”) was using the tape to extract $8 million from Richo’s client, property developer Ron Medich (seen here together).

imageAnother identity middlemanning himself around the central players was Richard Vereker (pic), a Runyonesque character with careers as a butcher, hotelier and pie salesman in Hungary. He was responsible for putting Richo in touch with McGurk.

He is the brother of Tony Vereker, Marcus Einfeld’s most recent solicitor.

Richardson said that the critical part of the tape is “inaudible”.

Further, McGurk apparently had told him that it was a senior NSW public servant who had received corrupt payments – not NSW politicians.

Just as the destructive force of the tape appeared to have diminished a new batch of apparently more lethal tapes has emerged. Things are hotting up, again.

A new unnamed source has told the Herald that a friend of McGurk’s (also unnamed) has possession of three tapes made by the deceased wheeler-dealer.

In a statement to the Police Integrity Commission, this source said:

“In respect of the taped recordings made by Mr McGurk, which I have heard, I have no doubt that should their contents be made known, the State Government of NSW would be unlikely to be able to continue to govern.”

Not that it’s doing much governing at the moment.

These tapes were made between 2004 and 2007 and do not relate to McGurk’s attempt to extort $8 million from Medich. Rather, they allegedly concern McGurk’s “corrupt relations with senior police officers, crime figures and politicians”.

There’ll be miles of posturing in the course of an upper house inquiry and it’s quite unlikely the coppers will find their man.

In fact, it was comforting to see both Channel Seven and The Australian reporting “unconfirmed claims a police officer could have been involved in the Sydney businessman’s death”.

Surely, this is too good to end.

See Flatulence


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