Gladys Berejiklian ICAC: Daryl Maguire’s pet name for former Premier in loved-up texts

Daryl Maguire and Gladys Berejiklian shared a series of loved-up texts during their secret relationship that ultimately destroyed the former NSW premier’s career. 

A ‘close, personal relationship’ was how the former NSW premier first described her then relationship, which lasted five years, with the ex-Liberal MP.

She made the extraordinary revelation at a hearing before the anti-corruption watchdog in 2020, which was investigating Mr Maguire.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigated whether Mr Maguire used his role as an MP to gain a financial benefit. 

Twelve months later, she fronted cameras on the verge of tears as she announced she would step down from the role as premier as the ICAC probe had been extended to include her own actions.

Nearly two years later, ICAC released on Thursday its report into whether the then-Premier breached public trust as a result of the relationship and whether she failed to report, or encouraged Mr Maguire’s potentially corrupt conduct.

The damning report found both Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire engaged in ‘serious corrupt conduct’.

Texts and phone calls between the pair were exposed during the corruption inquiry with Mr Maguire seen referring to Ms Berejiklian as ‘Hawkiss’ – an Armenian term of affection meaning ‘my soul’ or ‘my beloved’.

Daryl Maguire affectionately referred to Gladys Berejiklian as her pet name ‘Hawkiss’ during their five-year relationship as seen in loved-up texts – with both now found to have engaged in ‘serious corrupt conduct’

Mr Maguire is seen referring to Ms Berejiklian as 'Hawkiss in a text exchange from 2014

Mr Maguire is seen referring to Ms Berejiklian as ‘Hawkiss in a text exchange from 2014

One message from 2014, before Ms Berejiklian was premier, appears to reveal Mr Maguire telling her about how a motel had sold for $5.8million, and how he was entitled to $5,000.

‘Hawkiss good news. One of my contacts sold a motel for 5.8 million I had put her in contact so I should make 5k,’ he wrote. 

Hawkiss, or hokis, is an Armenian term of affection meaning ‘my soul’ or ‘my beloved’. 

Ms Berejiklian allegedly replied, saying: ‘Congrats!!! Great news!!! Woohoo’.

The NSW premier spoke Armenian at home and is descended from grandparents who fled the tiny, landlocked Caucasus nation for the Middle East during World War I as the Ottoman Empire massacred its subjects.

A phone call between the pair was also played at ICAC in 2020 and showed their close personal relationship.

The first private conversation was about Mr Maguire’s first trip to China, where Ms Berejiklian was heard saying her former chief of staff Sarah Cruickshank had concerns about his travel.

‘Alright babe, what do you think?’ Mr Maguire said in the call. 

In another intercepted phone call Ms Berejiklian told Mr Maguire: ‘You will always be my numero uno’.

In another text exchange Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire were seen discussing which phone messaging platform was best for them to speak on

In another text exchange Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire were seen discussing which phone messaging platform was best for them to speak on

In another text exchange Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire were seen discussing which phone messaging platform was best for them to speak on.

‘You need to get a private phone,’ Ms Berejiklian said. 

ICAC found Ms Berejiklian breached public trust between 2016 to 2017 by failing to disclose her five-year relationship with Mr Maguire, which the watchdog said could have had the ‘potential to influence the performance of her public duty’.

This is what we know about the relationship between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire.

Berejiklian reveals ‘close personal relationship’

Speaking at the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s (ICAC) probe Operation Keppel in October 2020, Ms Berejiklian revealed she had been in a ‘close personal relationship’ with the former Wagga Wagga MP since 2015.

Amid questions about whether she was aware of Mr Maguire’s potentially corrupt dealings, she said their relationship had started around the 2015 state election, and had only ended a few months before.

‘I would like to say at the outset that Mr Maguire was a colleague of 15 years, he was someone that I trusted,’ she said at the time.

‘And that developed into a close personal relationship.’

At the outset of their relationship, Ms Berejiklian was NSW Treasurer, while Mr Maguire was the Liberal MP for Wagga Wagga.

Ms Berejiklian would ascend to the NSW premiership in January 2017, during her relationship with Mr Maguire, while he resigned from his post in 2018 following revelations sparked during a separate ICAC inquiry.

Gladys: ‘I’ll never love again’

About three weeks after the news of Ms Berejiklian’s relationship broke, the premier gave an out-of-character interview with The Sunday Telegraph in which she confessed she has ‘given up on love’.

‘I’m just going to say I have always put my job first, rightly or wrongly, and that will now continue indefinitely,’ she said.

She said the public disclosure had changed her life ‘forever,’ and confirmed she was ‘never going to speak to him again’.

About three weeks after the news of Ms Berejiklian's relationship broke, the premier gave an out-of-character interview with The Sunday Telegraph in which she confessed she has 'given up on love'

About three weeks after the news of Ms Berejiklian’s relationship broke, the premier gave an out-of-character interview with The Sunday Telegraph in which she confessed she has ‘given up on love’

In radio interviews with Kiis FM’s Kyle and Jackie O, and Ben Fordham on 2GB, she maintained Mr Maguire wasn’t her boyfriend or partner, but conceded there was love between the two.

‘It wasn’t a normal relationship, he wasn’t my boyfriend. I certainly hoped he would be, but it wasn’t sufficiently substantial. I didn’t want to introduce anyone to my close network unless I knew,’ she told Fordham.

‘I was certainly in love with him … but no, he wasn’t my boyfriend.’

When asked if she had ‘sworn off love,’ by Kiis host Jackie ‘O’ Henderson, Ms Berejiklian simply responded with: ‘I just can’t see it happening’.

‘Irrespective of how I felt, we led completely separate lives,’ she said.

Speaking about Mr Maguire, she said she had incorrectly trusted him to ‘do the right thing’.

‘As much as he fooled me, he fooled a lot of other people as well, and that’s what people like that do.

‘That’s what’s really hurtful, because you trust someone, you’ve known them for more than a decade, and then this happens. It’s just a big shock.’

The public support was overwhelmingly in favour of the premier, with many saying it had humanised her.

Even those in political opposition, like Federal Labor Ministers Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek declined to use the blunder as political ammunition.

‘Can I take off my political hat, my Labor hat for a moment and just say I was surprised, but I don’t know, it’s all pretty human, isn’t it?’ Mr Shorten told Today.

‘I don’t hold that against Gladys. I mean, she’s a very dignified person.

‘She’s a smart lady who I think has been punching below her weight with perhaps a much more average guy.’

Mr Plibersek said she felt ‘sorry’ for the then-premier, while maintaining all allegations of impropriety should be investigated by the ICAC.

‘I feel actually, as a human being, very personally sorry for the premier,’ she told ABC’s Insiders.

‘It is hard to form and maintain relationships in our line of work.’

Ms Berejiklian announced she'd be stepping down as NSW Premier due to ICAC

Ms Berejiklian announced she’d be stepping down as NSW Premier due to ICAC

Berejiklian pulled into Operation Keppel

While Ms Berejiklian has denied all allegations of wrongdoing, her resignation as premier came about an hour after ICAC announced it was expanding its inquiry to include her role in Mr Maguire’s alleged misconduct.

ICAC said Operation Keppel would be expanded to investigate whether Ms Berejiklian breached public trust in helping Mr Maguire advance projects in Wagga Wagga. Central to their probe would be a $5.5m grant to the Australian Clay Target Association Incorporated, and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music.

She was also investigated over whether she failed to report Mr Maguire’s possible corrupt conduct, and whether she directly engaged in conduct that allowed or encouraged Mr Maguire’s ‘occurrence of corrupt conduct’.

During Ms Berejiklian’s emotional final press conference as premier, she said she had ‘always acted with the highest level of integrity’.

‘History will demonstrate that I have always executed my duties with the highest degree of integrity for the benefit of the people of NSW, who I have had the privilege to serve,’ she said.

With Ms Berejiklian’s public profile at record heights due to her daily Covid press conferences, people flooded her social media accounts with messages of support.

Her electoral office in Willoughby was also inundated with flowers, tokens and messages calling for her to stay on as premier.

Phone calls played during 2020 probe

Part of the evidence that sparked the investigation into Ms Berejiklian’s actions included a series of recorded phone calls between herself and Mr Maguire.

During the 2020 hearings, it was revealed the MP had given out Ms Berejiklian’s personal email, and used her office in a 2017 meeting with racing heiress and developer Louise Waterhouse and former roads minister Melinda Pavey.

The meeting was related to a plot of land owned by Ms Waterhouse near Badgerys Creek in western Sydney, which they wanted rezoned. Mr Maguire was attempting to broker the sale of the land to Chinese developer Country Garden for about $330m. While it didn’t go through, the deal could have landed him about $690,000 in commission.

In one damning bugged phone call between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire, where they discussed the development, the premier said of the deal: ‘I don’t need to know about that bit.’

‘No, you do not need to know that,’ Mr Maguire replied.

When asked during the hearing, Ms Berejiklian defended herself by saying: ‘I wouldn’t have registered a concern at that stage, because he was always talking big about deals and they always seemed to fall through’.

During the inquiry Mr Maguire said he had a key to Ms Berejiklian's house, and had discussed 'having a child' and getting married with her

During the inquiry Mr Maguire said he had a key to Ms Berejiklian’s house, and had discussed ‘having a child’ and getting married with her

Fronting media after she was grilled by Barrister Scott Robertson, Ms Berejiklian called the public revelations her ‘personal nightmare’.

‘I am an extremely private person and without question, I stuffed up in my personal life,’ she said.

‘If I had done something wrong, I would be the first one to consider my position. But I haven’t.’

Maguire quizzed about relationship

Taking the stand in October 2021, Ms Berejiklian said their relationship didn’t have enough ‘sufficient significance’ for it to be disclosed to colleagues.

When taking the stand, however, Mr Maguire said it had all the ‘hallmarks of a relationship’.

Asked whether he had a ‘close emotional attachment’ to Ms Berejiklian, and if the pair loved each other, he responded in the affirmative. He also said he had a key to her house, and had discussed ‘having a child’ and getting married with Ms Berejiklian.

Tapped phone calls between the pair also revealed the ways Mr Maguire lobbied the premier for the approval of projects in Wagga Wagga, including a hospital and a conservatorium.

While Mr Maguire told ICAC he didn’t ‘compartmentalise’ in his working life and private relationship with the premier, he said he lobbied everyone.

‘No, I lobbied everybody, anyone that had the slightest attachment to whatever it was I was proposing, I lobbied,’ he said.

Top staffer told relationship ‘in the past’

During a 2021 ICAC hearing, further details were revealed about how much Ms Berejiklian’s inner circle knew about her relationship with Mr Maguire.

Fronting ICAC, former deputy premier John Barilaro also told investigators that ‘no one’ in the NSW parliament knew about the secret relationship.

‘I can assure you, no one guessed it. It was a shock to everybody,’ he told ICAC’s assisting counsel, Scott Robertson.

Her final chief-of-staff, Neil Harley, said he first became aware of their relationship in August 2020, just before the then-premier was summoned to give testimony to ICAC in a secret interview, and five months before the disclosure became public.

‘It was a very difficult discussion about a very private matter for the former premier, who is inherently a very private person,’ Mr Harley told ICAC.

‘We talked in terms of the nature of the relationship and the fact it went beyond what you might normally regard as a relationship between a premier and other members of parliament.’

In a subsequent hearing, it was revealed her former chief-of-staff Sarah Cruickshank had known about her boss’ relationship as early as July 2018.

Ms Cruickshank was informed in a phone call made just after Mr Maguire’s name was implicated in ICAC’s Operation Dasha, which examined allegations against former Canterbury city councillors.

Mr Maguire was caught up in the probe after he was secretly recorded discussing property deals involving a Chinese developer over the phone with a then-councillor.

He was referred to the Director of Public Prosecution for possible criminal charges for giving false evidence to the inquiry when the report was handed down in 2021.

On Monday, Mr Maguire was charged with giving false and misleading evidence in relation to the inquiry.

‘I know the primary reason she was calling me was because a mutual friend had said, ‘You have to let Sarah know, she’s your chief of staff, she needs to know’,’ Ms Cruickshank told the commission at a hearing for Operation Keppel.

During her evidence, Ms Cruickshank said she was told the relationship had ended before Ms Berejiklian became premier. It wasn’t until her boss was pulled into another hearing in October 2020, that the staffer realised this wasn’t true.

When asked whether Ms Cruickshank believed Ms Berejiklian had originally lied, the former staffer replied: ‘There’s no different way to characterise it’.