A public servant has appeared before an ICAC inquiry in NSW. 

NSW Office of Sport director Michael Toohey told the inquiry he had serious concerns about a “flimsy” and “deficient” business case behind a controversial grant application.

The probe is looking into the conduct of former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire in the awarding of a grant for the Australian Clay Target Association in Wagga Wagga and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music.

Mr Toohey said he first learnt of a secret five-year relationship between the two at an Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing last year.

“I can’t see that was anything but a conflict of interest,” he said. 

Mr Toohey says he was asked with “extremely unusual” urgency to prepare a grant submission in a single day for the gun club, upon request from then-Sports Minister Stuart Ayres.

Ms Berejiklian later approved the submission and asked for it to be considered by the Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) in December 2016.

“What was the rush? Why couldn’t it wait ... I didn’t know why it was urgent,” Mr Toohey told the commission. 

“Why spend the money on this?”

Mr Toohey said he was told that the grant could help secure the state’s bid to host the Invictus Games, but he questioned this, noting the event “doesn’t have shooting events”.

He said if he knew the grant money would go to “someone who was in a personal relationship with the treasurer”, he would have escalated his concerns.

“Why were we pushing an allocation of funds to a local member based on such scant, inadequate information, which didn’t meet the NSW government’s own standards and policies?“

Mr Toohey said he was “extremely surprised” when Mr Maguire announced the grant money had been awarded.

“I thought it was a premature statement,” he said. 

“It makes it very difficult for people to say no.”

Ms Berejiklian has vehemently denied all wrongdoing. 

Live coverage of the inquiry is accessible here.