WELL, THERE YOU HAVE IT, the end of the road.
Today in Melbourne Magistrates Court the case against Craig Thomson finally came to a dramatic close.
For years now we have seen and heard the trial by media and today we saw the result of a trial by court.
Despite the Magistrate dropping 13 of the charges against Thomson relating to in-house movies, Magistrate Rozencwajg today found charges Thomson guilty of obtaining a financial advantage by the use of his Union credit card and cash withdrawals from Health Services Union accounts by saying the charges against him were proven.
Thomson, who has always maintained his innocence, had decided to take the path of using authorisation as his defence — as he said he saw as the fastest and cheapest way of defending himself.
This may have been a huge mistake, as it turns out.
Whilst authorisation for Thomson’s spending was never proven one way or the other, Magistrate Rozencwajg made the decision that much of Thomson’s spending did not pass the “commonsense” test.
The Magistrate found all of the charges proven apart from those that related to in-house movies. When delivering his verdict, he spoke of “grey areas” between what were personal and what were legitimate business expenses, which is why the 13charges relating to in-house movies were dropped as they related to travel whilst on business.
Magistrate Rozencwajg went further to say that he believed that Thomson was fully aware of what he was doing and that it was dishonest.
In his judgement, Magistrate Rozencwajg singled out cash withdrawals made by Thomson out for special mention in today’s proceedings, in words that may make Jackson feel somewhat faint.
Magistrate Rozencwajg stated that any cash withdrawal or expenditure at all from a union account was inappropriate and illegitimate, no matter what the circumstances.
Some of you will remember when Jackson, the prosecution's key witness and self-proclaimed whistle-blower, declared under oath to spending cash withdrawals that dwarf Thomson’s from Union accounts and comes off sounding like Imelda Marcos at a shoe sale.
Cash withdrawals Jackson made from union accounts exceeded $100,000 per annum — one year exceeding $200,000, according to her sworn testimony.
So it seems likely the star witness and Liberal Party puppet Kathy Jackson may be facing some serious questions regarding those withdrawals, as will the BCOM who she uses as her figleaf. Despite calling herself a whistle-blower, she has clearly become an expert in blowing something — and that appears to be her own trumpet, something she may now come to regret as police attention may now fall upon her.
Next in line?
Upon news of the verdict, acting HSU national president Chris Brown released a media statement saying that he was pleased with today’s decision in court.
“… it has been a long six years since the fraud was first uncovered with three major investigation leading to today’s verdict. It is a significant day for the Union and will allow us to start to put these unfortunate affairs behind us.”
Brown also went on to state that the union would now be pursuing civil action against Thomson to seek to recover any of the members funds that have been used for personal business rather than union business — money Brown terms as stolen.
Brown is right — any money that has been used outside union guidelines should be returned to the members. That would, of course, also include funds that can be retrieved from Craig Thomson, Michael Williamson, and of course Kathy Jackson.
After all, a union is all about the members.
So where to now?
Craig Thomson has been found guilty and is up to facing five years imprisonment and now awaits sentencing on 18 March. He also waits for a civil case against him to be launched by the HSU which will most likely bankrupt him.
Thomson’s bail conditions have also changed with the Magistrate imposing a “Static Residential Condition”, meaning he can’t travel.
Chris Brown faces the prospect of retrieving funds and rebuilding his Union’s reputation amongst not only the public, but also the members.
Kathy Jackson and her BCOM buddies face more investigations, a mountain of evidence and an upcoming Royal Commission.
It is unclear whether Thomson will appeal the decision.
Read more by Peter Wicks at Wixxyleaks and follow him on Twitter at @madwixxy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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