Former Exmouth Shire pair cleared of document charges

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Exmouth's Ningaloo Centre.
Camera IconExmouth's Ningaloo Centre. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr/Picture: Tom Zaunmayr, Tom Zaunmayr.

Former Shire of Exmouth chief executive Bill Price and former strategic projects officer Andrew Forte have been found not guilty of falsifying documents in the course of their roles at the Shire.

The pair, who were each tried on two counts of falsifying documents as public officers, were acquitted by a jury on Friday after a 10-day trial in the Carnarvon District Court.

Jury members took slightly longer than two hours to reach their verdict and the decision was unanimous.

The charges against Mr Price and Mr Forte stemmed from a 2017 Corruption and Crime Commission report into claims of misconduct at the Shire, which centred on the award of a contract for the $1 million aquarium at the Ningaloo Centre.

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The report alleged the pair granted the aquarium contract to Perth-based company Ocean Reefs Production without calling for tenders, and prepared a false document recommending councillors engage the company when the contract had already been awarded.

Mr Price served as the Shire of Exmouth chief executive from July 2010 to December 2016, when he was summarily dismissed by councillors based on advice from Shire solicitors in the wake of the CCC investigation.

In a statement, a Shire of Exmouth spokeswoman said the Shire had worked hard to restore community confidence since the CCC investigation and was looking to the future.

The CCC declined to comment.

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