Speculation that ALP MP Craig Thomson will be charged
STEVE LEWIS – NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
News Limited Network
January 31, 201312:00AM
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Craig Thomson last year. Picture: Kym Smith Source: The Australian
LABOR’S election campaign could suffer an early setback in the key battleground of NSW, with heightened speculation that Victorian police will shortly lay charges against suspended ALP MP Craig Thomson.
Senior legal sources believe the Victorian fraud squad – which has spent more than a year investigating the former Health Services Union boss – could announce criminal charges before the end of the week.
Mr Thomson is suspended from the Labor Party, but any police charges would be damaging for the Gillard Government and would follow on from charges being laid against former Speaker Peter Slipper earlier this month by the Australian Federal Police.
It is understood Victorian detectives – who have been investigating allegations that Mr Thomson spent thousands of dollars in union funds on prostitutes and other personal items – have concluded their long-running inquiry.
The former Labor MP – who was suspended last year from the ALP Caucus – has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
He is alleged to have used union credit cards – and cash withdrawals – to pay for escort services between 2003 and 2007 while he was HSU national secretary and before he entered federal parliament.
Last night, the MP’s Sydney lawyer, Chris McArdle, said he had “heard nothing” from the Victorian police.
He is confident that Mr Thomson will be cleared of any wrongdoing.
“If there is criminal charges, he will be acquitted,” Mr McArdle said.
A spokeswoman for Victoria Police said: “The investigation is ongoing and we will not be providing a running commentary.”
Yesterday, the FWA filed a further subpoena in the Federal Court as it continued to gather evidence against Mr Thomson.
The subpoena drags in the NSW ALP which twice – in 2007 and 2010 – preselected Mr Thomson for the central coast seat of Dobell.
Among the documents sought by the industrial watchdog included “any application or nomination” by Mr Thomson for preselection and information relating to a series of payments made by the HSW to the ALP’s Dobell campaign.