NT ICAC Commissioner Ken Fleming announces early retirement, citing challenging year

The Northern Territory’s first Independent Commissioner Against Corruption has announced his retirement, two years before his term is due to end.

Ken Fleming QC was appointed as the head of the NT’s anti-corruption watchdog in July 2018 and plans to relinquish the role in July this year.

“It is with regret that I announce my retirement as the Northern Territory Independent Commissioner Against Corruption,” he said in a statement.

“2020 was a challenging year for many people, and for me reinforced the importance of being close to family.”

During his tenure, Mr Fleming has overseen the establishment of the powerful corruption-fighting unit, which last year commenced 56 investigations into allegations of serious and systemic misconduct.

His office has publicly released three reports into its investigations, the most notable of which found the NT’s long-serving former Speaker Kezia Purick responsible for breaches of public trust that amounted to “corrupt conduct”.

The NT Speaker Kezia Purick speaks at a press conferenceThe NT Speaker Kezia Purick speaks at a press conference
Former Speaker Kezia Purick rejected adverse findings made against her by the ICAC Commissioner.(ABC News: Michael Donnelly)

Ms Purick resigned from her role following the finding that she had inappropriately interfered with the creation of a political party.

But she told Parliament last year that she did not accept ICAC’s findings against her, saying she had not been afforded natural justice.

Mr Fleming’s time as ICAC Commissioner has not been without controversy.

In late 2019, he relinquished his oversight role in an investigation following the shooting death of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker at Yuendumu, after making controversial comments.

Another significant ICAC report looming

In September last year, Mr Fleming flagged the release of a “major report” in November 2020 that “may just fill all of your expectations and longings”.

But the report, including what it related to, was yet to be made public.

Mr Fleming on Thursday said he remained confident his office would continue to fulfil its mandate once he departed in the middle of the year.

“It has been a privilege and an honour to have served as the first NT Independent Commissioner Against Corruption and to have established an office dedicated to preventing, detecting and responding to improper conduct within the Northern Territory.”

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner, whose government established the ICAC, thanked Mr Fleming for his “outstanding service”.

“Commissioner Fleming is experienced, intelligent and intrepid — qualities that made him the perfect person for such a challenging role,” Mr Gunner said.

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