Millionaire mining magnate Travers Duncan has taken the extraordinary step of launching legal action aimed at shutting down the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry in which adverse evidence has been given about himself.
Mr Duncan, 80, one of the richest men in Australia, has taken action in the NSW Supreme Court seeking to shut down the inquiry and prevent the commissioner making any findings.
The claim, which came before Justice Peter Garling on Thursday, lists as defendants Commissioner David Ipp, whom Mr Duncan is accusing of bias, and the commission.
For eight weeks ICAC has heard sensational evidence that the family of former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid used inside information from then resources minister Ian Macdonald to enrich his family by tens of millions of dollars.
The dramatic turn of events is expected to draw in Premier Barry O'Farrell, who is likely to be subpoenaed by Mr Duncan's legal team, headed by Noel Hutley, SC, to produce documents relating to coal exploration licences allegedly corruptly granted by Mr Macdonald in 2009.
Last month Mr Duncan tried to prevent Commissioner Ipp responding to a request from the Premier, who had sought advice from the commission on how to deal with the coal exploration licences.
The commissioner rebuked lawyers acting for Mr Duncan. Describing the tone of the letters from Yeldham Price O'Brien Lusk as ''impertinent'' and ''inappropriate,'' Commissioner Ipp said it was in the public interest to provide the requested advice to the Premier.
''I intend, unless otherwise restrained by a court, to proceed to respond to the Premier's letter,'' he said. He would not make ''findings of fact'' in his letter. He told Mr Duncan's lawyers that if their client disagreed with this action, Mr Duncan could exercise his legal rights by ''that well-known means''.
After receiving the commissioner's response, the Premier indicated the adverse evidence given to the inquiry would weigh against granting development consent.
''Let me make very clear that I will do all I can to protect the interests of NSW taxpayers,'' he said.
Mr Duncan was one of seven wealthy business figures whose company Cascade Coal is alleged to have won a rigged government coal tender for Mount Penny in the Bylong Valley which covered several properties owned by the Obeids and their associates.
Should Mr Duncan be successful, the inquiry, which has cost millions of dollars, might have to start afresh. Because of the seriousness of the matter, an expedited hearing date has been set for March 22.