Whistleblower feels punished for telling truth

WHISTLEBLOWER Gillian Sneddon's honesty led to Milton Orkopoulos's ultimate disgrace, but the day of his conviction will haunt her in a personal way for the rest of her life.

"It's my birthday today. I'm 51," Ms Sneddon said yesterday on her way to a birthday lunch with her son, shortly after a jury found Orkopoulos guilty of 28 drug and sex charges.

While her former boss contemplates a future in jail, Ms Sneddon is jobless and fighting for compensation against a Labor Government that's "just hung me out to dry".

"They've treated me like I'm the criminal, that's how they've treated me," she said.

"They haven't paid me since March last year and my employment was terminated the first day I gave evidence."

Ms Sneddon has been a Labor Party member for 15 years and was Orkopoulos's electorate officer until she was locked out of his Swansea office after it became known she had notified police about child sex allegations against him.

"My job was to report the information I was given by one of the victims and whatever the outcome [it] meant nothing to me," she said.

"What was important to me was that I reported the information I was given accurately.

"The fact that I told the truth was the most important thing to me, and not what happened after that."

She declined to comment about how she felt about the overwhelming guilty verdicts from the jury, and said she did not agonise about whether to raise the allegations with the then member for Newcastle Bryce Gaudry.

"I have no difficulty in telling the truth," she said.

But she was shocked and depressed by the response of some Labor Party colleagues and the NSW Government after she was told she was not wanted in the Swansea office and no alternative position was offered.

"The message I got is they shoot the messenger. Some people can think I'm tainted because of what's happened but I can hold my head up high and I know I'm a decent person."

Opposition spokesman for the Hunter Mike Gallacher offered his full support to Ms Sneddon in her battle for compensation, saying her treatment sent a damaging message about telling the truth to people employed by the NSW Government and its agencies.

The Opposition has called for an independent person to adjudicate Ms Sneddon's workers' compensation claim.

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