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5 March, 2010  
Goings On ...

Property shocks … Godwin Grech takes interior design to an exciting new level … Coppers haven’t closed the book on Grech investigation … Drama in John Alexander’s steam room … Grouting horror … Too much French in Glenmore Road

imageGodwin Grech just couldn’t cram more chandeliers, gilded angels, furbelows, mirrors and clocks into his Canberra villa.

It looks like the same crazed decorator that was let loose in Buck House has also tizzed-up Godwin’s place.

The whole grotesquerie was on display courtesy of the the selling agent’s online advertisements.

The former Treasury officer is keen to move on and “be with relatives”.

We know his ideas and inside info provided inspiration to Mr and Mrs Albrechtsen.

imageThe emergence of Grech’s dizzying abode into the public domain prompted the thought: whatever happened to plod’s investigation into Godwin?

The Grech fake email affair burst upon the landscape in June last year.

When I asked the federal coppers in Canberra this week what the bloodhounds had uncovered, I was shocked to learn that “this is still an ongoing investigation”.

The media muffin at the AFP wasn’t sure what they were investigating, but she thought it was probably the fake email. She couldn’t help with any information as to when the mystery would be solved.

With all the extra resources and person-power it’s good to know that the federal wallopers set a cracking pace.

The Senate Committee on Privileges released its report last November on Grech’s dodgy OzCar evidence to the senate’s economic legislation committee.

Because the privileges committee couldn’t be certain that Grech deliberately intended to mislead the committee by use of the fake email, it let the little weasel off the hook. It was unable to conclude that he had committed a contempt of the senate.

imageThe Treasury also conducted an inquiry in probity issues surrounding Mr Albrechtsen’s (aka John O’Sullivan’s) firm, Credit Suisse, and its role as the OzCar program manager.

Who can forget the slimy email Grech sent O’Sullivan on March 19 last year?

“FYI for now. Re fees what I have in mind is that once Rudd and his hacks sign off on Ford Credit you and I can change the contract to reflect your preferred fee arrangement and push that through quickly next week. I will not be running it past Henry [Secretary to the Treasury] and co.


O’Sullivan replied 20 minutes later:

“Thanks Godwin. Sounds sensible… ”

It has emerged that Treasury and Credit Suisse commissioned Ernst & Young to review CS’s fee arrangement for the OzCar program.

We understand by this CS was footing part of the bill for the review. You’ll be relieved to know that E&Y found the fees to be “commercially reasonable”. Or should that be “sensible”?

Thank God plod is hot on the trail.

* * *

imageIf you’re in the mood for more decor disasters and household fittings screaming for attention there is no better place to graze than acting judge Barrie Hungerford’s reasons in the stoush between, on the one hand Packer amanuensis John Alexander and his wife Alice, and on the other project manager Linda Gregoriou and the building company, All Sydney Builders.

Pic: John and Linda

The Alexanders and Ms Gregoriou are dazzling orbs on Sydney’s “social” whirl.

The dispute arose over renos to the Alexanders’ spread at Robertson. Faults were found in the conversion of Possumwood, an old farmhouse, into a stately Southern Highlands pile.

Because neither the building company nor Linda Gregoriou as project manager turned out to be licensed tradespeople, the case developed unfortunate difficulties.

These are the sort of things that can go wrong in the no-expense-spared quest for rural squire status:

* Marks on limestone tiles in the laundry. Also “ponding” on the laundry floor;

* Defective double doors to laundry;

* Marks on the limestone bathroom floor tiles;

* A blocked S bend in the laundry drain;

* Poor grouting and stains on the black tiles in the steam room;

* First floor bathroom taps incorrectly fitted, so “hot” was “cold” and vice versa;

* Cracks in the concrete slab in the barn, which was converted to a photographic studio;

* Trouble in the ground floor bathroom. An antique table was not sufficiently strong to support the hand basin.

* Defects in the under-floor heating for the ground floor bathroom.

There were no written contracts and invoices were missing, which meant some of the claims were not made out.

Apart from Alice Alexander the only other oral evidence came from two building experts.

Curiously, John Alexander, who dealt with all the financial aspects of the project, did not give evidence, nor did the defendants.

Mrs Alexander’s testimony was riddled with, “I don’t recall … I don’t recall exactly … I don’t know … I wasn’t aware”.

Barrie clearly had difficulties in coming up with a judgment. He said:

“Much of Mrs Alexanders evidence in this respect was hesitant and very qualified in a protective manner of her position. That, coupled with the lack of oral evidence from any of the other parties, has meant more reliance than perhaps is usual on the various documents, but where any inferences to draw from those documents makes one use caution. I do not propose to keep repeating this evidentiary difficulty but it is something foremost in my mind in determining this matter as satisfying the respective burden of proof on each party.”

The Alexanders claimed close to $500,000. Barrie gave them $34,335 – split half-half between Linda and the builder.

Not much of a win.

The case provided a bit of distraction for a while, but without the star witnesses it should never have been allowed to chew up five days of the court’s precious time.

* * *

One of the the most captivating yarns of last month was The Sydney Morning Herald’s story headlined, “Candid cameras and a hyena laugh: dispute rocks Glenmore Road”.

Magistrate Jacqueline Milledge is reported to have been unimpressed with an accusation that Brambles’ businessman Michael Roberts had breached an interim AVO by training security cameras on his neighbours’ property.

“It’s nonsense, an absolute nonsense,” she said.

An application for a permanent AVO against Roberts was withdrawn on the spot.

What gave the story piquancy was the fact that the displeased neighbours a few doors along in Glenmore Road, Paddo, were a chap called Searle Indyk and his partner Nanette Williams.

No No Nanette is a senior NSW crown prosecutor and the newspaper conveniently provided her street number, which must have been helpful for any deranged crims on the warpath.

The dispute flared over a little French language school nestled between Roberts and the Indyk-Williamses.

The impressive motto of the school is: “A French lesson you will never forget.”

Roberts was supportive of the school, while you could say the couple on the other side were not.

The Herald reported that Indyk disrupted French lessons by making noises beside the classroom.

Further, someone “claiming to be a friend of Mr Indyk and his partner contacted newspapers anonymously asking reporters to run a story about a ‘corporate bully’.”

Mysteriously copies of the interim AVO against Roberts were distributed to newspapers as proof of “harassment”.

Possibly Indyk’s worse offence was to use a leaf blower at 8.40pm.

The whole experience could not have been an attractive addition to No No’s bio as a crown prosecutor.

Yet the question lingers. Why all the fuss about a little French school in Glenmore Road when down the bottom of the street an altogether more lusty interpretation of French is underway?

That’s where Liaisons Brothel conducts a thumping great business around the clock.

Previous missives from Theodora