Thursday, January 31, 2013

Police arrest MP Craig Thomson on 150 fraud charges.....

FIVE years after questions were first raised about Craig Thomson's alleged misuse of Health Services Union funds, the MP was today arrested and will face multiple fraud charges.
NSW Fraud Squad officers arrested Mr Thomson at his electorate office at Tuggerah on the NSW Central Coast this afternoon. They were acting for Victorian police, who have been investigating allegations that as Health Services Union national secretary he misused hundreds of thousands of dollars of members' money.
The former Labor MP, who was edged out of the party by Julia Gillard and now sits as an independent in his marginal seat of Dobell, has consistently denied allegations against him, which are also the subject of a civil case by Fair Work Australia.
Mr Thomson was taken to Wyong police station this afternoon where he was charged with one count, while police served him with papers relating to 149 other fraud-related charges.
He later appeared briefly in Wyong Local Court and was released on bail, with some conditions, ahead of an appearance in a Melbourne court on February 6.
Emerging to face journalists, Mr Thomson said he would go to Melbourne next week and would be "vigorously" defending the charges against him.
"I have done no wrongdoing and that is what will be found in these matters," he said.
His lawyer, Chris McArdle, also said Mr Thomson would plead not guilty to all charges.
Representing himself, and showing little emotion, Mr Thomson was asked by the Wyong magistrate if he objected to the validity of the warrant against him. He responded, “No, your worship.”
Mr Thomson was ordered to advise police within 24 hours of a change of address or plans to travel interstate or overseas, unless travelling as part of his parliamentary duties.
One of the conditions of Mr Thomson's bail prohibits him from contacting any person, directly or through a third party, whom he allegedly engaged for sexual services.
NSW Fraud Squad head Detective Superintendent Col Dyson earlier told reporters that Victorian police had invited Mr Thomson to travel to Victoria before Christmas to face charges but he had refused, so the warrant was issued today.
But Mr McArdle said the police version of events was "completely untrue''. The request for his client to travel to Victoria was to attend an interview, not surrender to police, he said.
"If we had been given that invitation we would have done so and we wouldn't have needed this reality TV show that's going on," he said.
Mr McArdle said his client would protest his innocence, and complained about the fact that television stations were apparently tipped off well ahead of the arrest.
"He will plead not guilty to all of the charges," Mr McArdle told Sky News, describing journalists and some politicians as "circus performers".
Mr Thomson has previously strenuously denied allegations he misused union funds to pay for prostitutes, air travel, entertainment and cash withdrawals when he was the Health Services Union national secretary from 2002 to 2007.
Mr McArdle told Sky News that detectives had taken his client "completely by surprise" when they arrested him this afternoon.
"He has been charged with 149 offences along the lines of 'use credit card to obtain $300', that sort of thing," he said.
"This fellow is innocent and will maintain that innocence throughout."
Mr McArdle disputed that extradition would occur, saying that the MP would appear of his own accord in court in Melbourne next week.
"This is something out of the Roman Colosseum; this man's been thrown to the lions," he said.
"Five policemen arrested a man for minor misappropriation charges, which we deny. You don't need five policemen to do that. You only need five policemen if there's a risk of violence."
Superintendent Dyson said up to 10 officers arrived at Mr Thomson's electorate office, including two officers from Victorian police.
"He's been co-operative," the policeman said. "He's been very calm. He's accepted what's been said to him. He hasn't argued."
Victorian police task force Vespine has been investigating allegations against Mr Thomson following an official complaint from the new leadership of the HSU, national secretary Kathy Jackson and then deputy national president Chris Brown.
Ms Jackson and Mr Brown gave information to the police following a report commissioned by the union and carried out by law firm Slater and Gordon and forensic accountants BDO Kendall.
The charging of Mr Thomson comes only a day after Julia Gillard took the bold step of fixing the date of the federal election eight months out.
The Coalition has for the past 18 months been pressing the government over Mr Thomson in a bid to associate Labor with allegations against the MP.
The arrest of Mr Thomson will not of its own force him to resign under the law - an MP must only step down if they are convicted of an offence carrying a potential jail sentence of more than one year.
Touring the flood-hit Bundaberg area in Queensland, Julia Gillard said she had no prior knowledge of Mr Thomson's arrest and would not comment further.
"I have been briefed on the media reports but it's something for the police,'' she said. "I have been focused on what's been happening in these communities''
Tony Abbott said the Coalition would respect the judicial process, but added that "the Thomson matter is not just about what Craig Thomson may or may not have done".
"It's always been about the judgment of the Prime Minister," he said.
A longtime personal supporter of Mr Thomson, Labor frontbencher Craig Emerson, told Sky News that the Thomson matter should now be left to the courts.
"He is entitled, like all everyday Australians, to the presumption of innocence," Dr Emerson said.
Additional reporting: Ben Packham and AAP

Craig Thomson bailed after court appearance, to face multiple fraud charges


  1. I trust, hope and pray the Victoria Police Force brief on Mr Thompson is watertight - unlike the pathetic FairWork Australia mangled job. Perhaps now the AWU issue could be brought forward and suitable charges laid!!!!

  2. Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger, and
    I was curious about your situation; we have developed some nice practices and we are looking to exchange strategies
    with other folks, be sure to shoot me an email if interested.

    my webpage - learn more about it