Inquiry descends into acrimony as witness accused of misquoting federal judge and citing unreliable figures

A government-ordered inquiry into the funding of legal class actions descended into acrimony on its first day of hearings when the first witness from a Liberal party thinktank was accused of misquoting a federal judge and citing unreliable figures.

James Mathias, the chief of staff at the Menzies Research Centre (MRC) and a former Liberal candidate for federal parliament, sought to defend his submission during tense exchanges with the Labor senator, Deborah O’Neill, who described it as an “undergraduate essay that would fail” on multiple grounds.

Related: Ignore the business elite's tall tales – class actions give all Australians access to justice | Jacob Varghese

Related: Fears a crackdown on class actions in Australia could let big businesses 'do what they like'

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