Shortly one of the most heavily publicised legal cases in Australia since the Lindy Chamberlain trial will come to a close.

December 15th is the day of reckoning for Craig Thomson as the judgement on his appeal is due to be handed down, and with a bit of luck so to the trial by media will be over.

The appeal was against convictions of obtaining financial advantage by deception. The total of these convictions amounting to approximately $24K over a 5 year period.

These convictions were based on Thomson’s use of his union credit card and covered a range of expenditure from cash withdrawals to taking his wife away to a union function on the odd occasion.

One thing that has always puzzled me about this case is the word “deception”.

For example a large part of the case involves Thomson’s wife accompanying him on business trips. They weren’t exactly raking in the frequent flier points, with Thomson’s wife accompanying Craig on seven trips over five years. However I do wonder who was actually being deceived, after all this expenditure was not hidden in any way whatsoever.

In fact there is nothing in the charges that show anybody being deceived from what I can tell, there are no disguised payments or expense forms or cheque requisitions claiming to be for something that they are not, such as staff benefits or uniforms for a child care centre that has no uniforms.

Last time Thomson was in court there was confusion over the difference between admitted facts and admissions. Facts admitted to court for evidence does not necessarily mean all parties agree on them.

The long walk from court Photo - AAP

The long walk from court
Photo – AAP

This time around there is confusion around lies and Thomson’s attempts to save himself embarrassment.

In keeping with the  tradition of bias and misrepresentattion News Ltd stated this in their online article

Former MP Craig Thomson lied about using a union credit card to pay for prostitutes because he was ashamed, his barrister says.”

The quotation marks are because I am quoting News Ltd, not because News Ltd are quoting Greg James QC. In fact James said no such thing at all.

What Greg James was referring to in court is that the prosecution had in their evidence a section entitled “Lies”. This contained allegations of lying to the media including the Laurie Oakes interview.

The point that James was making is that even if there were lies to the media which could have been done for a number of reasons including trying to save embarrassment, they are irrelevant to the case. It was not any form of admission of Thomson lying, it is merely pointing out that it is a waste of money and court time to debate the alleged lies, they may as well debate global warming as discuss the interpretation of media coverage of Thomson’s words. The fact that this topic is even spoken about at all tells us that the prosecution has designed their case for media consumption rather than any form of justice.

If Craig Thomson had done the Laurie Oakes interview and introduced himself as Barrack Obama it would still have no relevance to this court case at all and would not make him any more or less guilty or change whether or not he had authorisation to use a credit card bearing his name..

In court a mockery was made of the prosecutions alleged facts that had been admitted into evidence. One such example and one that shows the difference between admitted facts and admissions is the trip to Adelaide.

The fact that Thomson and his former wife went to Adelaide paid for with union funds is a fact that has been admitted, the rest is speculation.

The trip to Adelaide Thomson has explained as a visit with the psychologists association. The prosecution’s case that because the SA Secretary of Branch 3 of the union was unaware of Thomson’s visit it must have been a personal trip. This is pure speculation not fact and in many ways fanciful.

A fact not highlighted by the prosecution is that the Adelaide Branch Secretary in question did not get along with the psychologists association at all, hence the reason for not being involved.

Hoping to be home for Xmas Photo - News Ltd

Hoping to be home for Xmas
Photo – News Ltd

Another part of the prosecution’s case that seemingly defies logic is how they claim the bank has been defrauded by Thomson’s use of the credit card.

If Thomson uses a credit card with his name on it, his signature on the back and the bank is repaid what is spent on it, then how is the bank being defrauded? This is legal idiocy and frankly these charges should have been dumped long ago and the person responsible for them sacked. If the credit card issuer had a claim I’m sure it would make one.

However if the matter didn’t involve the credit card issuer, then the legal matter would be between Thomson and the union making it a civil matter which would not have played out so well for those seeking to take political advantage of the situation. It would seem a lot of creative thinking has gone into making this a criminal matter rather than a civil one.

I am sure Thomson would have relished the opportunity to argue out every aspect of this case in a trial rather than have to instead base his freedom on the sole matter of authorisation. However this was not possible.

In a case where you have had senior politicians proclaiming your guilt and a mainstream media baying for your blood the burden of proof is put firmly on Thomson’s shoulders. It no longer becomes a matter of being proven guilty, with all of the political and media pressure one has to prove their innocence.

Unfortunately for Thomson to argue every aspect of the case on its merits would mean a six-week trial and around a $1 Million legal bill, who has that sort of cash lying around? We aren’t all Kathy Jackson after all…

Therefore Thomson was forced into the far cheaper option of arguing based on the authority issue as if authority was proven it covered all of the charges.

Thomson faces a prosecution with the unlimited funds of Victorian taxpayers at its disposal.

The media coverage of this appeal has been far lighter than in previous cases which must make Thomson feel better and the prospect of Labor victory in the Victorian election may also mean less political pressure on the matter.

So now Thomson waits until December 15th to find out how this drama will finally finish.

Meanwhile Thomson’s family just hope that Craig will be home for Christmas.

 

 

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39 thoughts on “The Waiting – Craig Thomson’s appeal all over bar the waiting

  1. Craig has my very best wishes. He has endured hell along with his wife. The person who needs to be brought to account is K Jackson who so far has been looked after like a long lost daughter by the RC into Unions

  2. David – if looking after a “long lost daughter” involves recommending charges that attract a maximum penalty of 10 years in gaol, then I thank my lucky stars that the Royal Commission into trade unions is not looking after me or those that I love!

  3. The correct result will ensue this time because the deed has been done and an LNP crook has Dobell,for the mo.
    Cheers Wixxy for your sterling effort and cheers Thommo for Never saying Never-Left and Strnog Forever.

  4. As a criminal defence lawyer I also have some difficulty identifying the physical element of deception. The prosecution needs to prove such element beyond reasonable doubt and although I have not seen the specific evidence of deception I find it hard to see the deception in the use of one’s own credit card. However, it is possible that the description, on the credit card receipt, of the service paid for, may be deceptive. But in most cases the description is written by the sales staff not the buyer. So again it is difficult for me to come to grips with the proof of the criminal act. Then the prosecution must also prove beyond reasonable doubt there was an intention to deceive. I also find it difficult to see how such mental element may be proved to the requisite standard. I will read the appeal judgement with interest. Peter, if you have not already done so it would be useful if you could post the magistrates decision on your site.

  5. Just curious as to why NEWS LTD keeps dragging up prostitution charges,he either used them or he did not,I hope he wins so he can sue the bastards.

  6. It gives the story some spice, union secretary spends money on union credit card while travelling on union business doesn’t have the same impact

  7. The Parker Warning: Prepare for something unusual. I noted from a TV report that the appeal judge gave Thomson a Parker warning. This is a warning to the appellant that the Judge may increase the penalty imposed by the lower court. The way it works is that when such warning is given the appellant has the right to withdraw the appeal without risk of an increased penalty. However, if after the warning the appeal proceeds then the Judge may take the view that the penalty imposed by the Magistrate was not sufficient and increase it. If the judge dismisses the merit appeal Thomson may [repeat may] be sentenced to a longer term than that imposed by the Magistrate. Always a high risk and the lawyer needs to confident. I must say it is difficult to find any better defence counsel than Greg James.

  8. John Overall – yours is probably the best distillation of the Craig Thomson legal issues than I have read. And it has given me pause for thought. On a personal level, I do think Craig Thomson has done something wrong in terms of using members funds appropriately. But the issue you seem to be addressing is whether his alleged wrongdoing is truly a criminal matter (that is, a breach of the Victorian Crimes Act 1958) or whether it would be better handled as a civil matter in a Court of competent jurisdiction.

    I concede that this is an immensely important issue, and that perhaps the charges brought against him, and his subsequent conviction, were misconceived. However, be that as it may, I still cannot bring myself to regard him favourably. In my view, the guy ripped off the very members whose interests he was supposed to uphold and protect. He was paid a handsome salary (far more than most people in the community) yet he still wanted his members to pay for his various “home comforts”. He could well afford to have paid for his wife’s travel and the services of the prostitutes he engaged. So why didn’t he? I would argue that his is the greed of a typical petty thief. Certainly not the conduct that the man in the Clapham omnibus would expect of a highly paid trade union official. Thomson might win in his present Court setting, but I wonder whether he will win in the court of public opinion?

  9. As usual, Peter, your explanation of these matters is luminously clear. Only journalists who are incompetent or malevolent could have reported these events so misleadingly. It is significant that the journalists who have reported Jackson’s misdemeanours so clearly and accurately have not been accorded the responsibility of informing us about the proceedings against Thomson. No wonder many of us suspect a conspiracy here.

  10. JB I presume you will apologise to Mr Thomson if he is exonerated. You must hold conclusive proof he used the card for prostitutes service. Care to share it? Cheers

  11. Union officials shouldn’t be spending member’s hard earned on themselves no matter who they are. No amount of legal sophistry and hocus pocus defeats that basic proposition. If Thomson can successfully argue that the technical elements of the offence with which he is charged are not made out, then Kathy Jackson, if charged with the same offence, can do likewise. The only differences will be the types of personal expenditure and the quantum in issue, and both would be irrelevant. This isn’t a New Testament morality tale populated by good and bad thieves. If they’ve both helped themselves to member’s money, it should be an offence and both should be punished. In those circumstances the quantum does become relevant and the alleged amount hanging over Jackson’s head make Thomson look like a petty pilferer.

  12. John Overall – agreed firmly with you about Greg James QC being one of the best people to have on your side. The s.81(1) charges were based on the premise of the intent to permanently deprive, while the s.82(1) charges were based on the premise to obtain a financial advantage by deception. The prosecutor skillfully crafted and constructed the mens rea element around the inconsistent auditing practices of the HSU, as well as with MSM interviews featuring Fowl-Mouthed-Owl-Eyes and that shlock jock who is presently a tenant in Kathy Jackson’s basement. But having sat through several days of the trial, what was most notable is how the mainstream media basically told lies about what was going on in court. Speaking as a law student, it was certainly a very educational experience, particularly with seeing two very high quality silks at work.

  13. This is too complicated for me. Having come across an MSM report yesterday, I thought CT was admitting he’d charged sex worker services to his union card and then admitted he’d lied about the sex worker stuff because he was too ashamed to own up. This article puts a different light on it altogether. I must admit I’m confused about the legal aspects and the whole damned business even though I’ve tried to keep up via this series of articles.

    And then, even if Craig were to be completely exonerated, I bet 90% of the public would still think he was guilty of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars and that he got off on a technicality.

  14. I have come to the view that nothing the mainstream media reports on either Craig Thomson or Kathy Jackson can be trusted. Therefore, I take my lead from Peter and the IA on this.

  15. When this is all over I hope that Craig can write a book or something to tell it all from his side. A pleasure meeting his folks last week.

  16. David – yes, of course. If someone is exonerated, it means he/she has been falsely accused and deserves an apology. This applies to me as much as it does to any other “accuser”. As for your comment concerning use of Thomson’s credit card for procuring prostitution services, my understanding is that this is not what the current legal proceedings are about. My understanding is that the current legal proceedings are concerned with whether or not Thomson used deception to secure for himself financial advantage or property, thereby breaching Sections 81 and 82 of the Victorian Crimes Act 1958. The Court is not considering what services or products were involved, and will not make a determination on this. If Thomson is “exonerated” on 15 December, it will be only in relation to the deception aspect of his conduct. Even Thomson himself is not denying what he used his credit cards for – he is simply claiming that he had the authority to spend as he did. And, by the way, there is ample documentary evidence in the public realm that Thomson did use his card on prostitution and escort services.

  17. ABS – statistics not favourable for him: based on 1996 data only 23% of conviction and sentence appeals succeeded, the majority of sentences were extended.

  18. Thanks wixxy, your report is completely different to what was in online media.

  19. You are most welcome, David. No doubt we will converse further on this matter in due course. 🙂

  20. Well I think Thommo is making a valuable contribution to society here. Given there is clear evidence that the credit card vouchers are falsified and all he then needed to do was check the other bills with database records of the phone and credit card company, I think we can all take something away from this.

    Namely, if you are accused of a serious crime with which you have in your grasp clear exonerating evidence and you get a highly paid lawyer to conceal this exonerating evidence and generally act like a clever dick in court on your behalf, your reward will be 12 months in jail and a trashed reputation.

    Altogether a great teachable moment.

  21. As A High Court Judge, I think he is guilty of a series of gross deceptions upon some of the lowest paid workers. He obviously never thought he would be caught. He doesn’t even have the decency to admit guilt and apologise to those from which he stole.

  22. John. Re Parker warning. In Victoria it is now mandatory at the start of an appeal from Magistrates decision to issue the warning at the start of proceedings as the appeal is an appeal de novo rather than a technical appeal. This is relatively new legislation but the media should have been aware that the legislation dictates the warning must be given and the form of the warning at the start of the trial.

  23. Peter you will of course post a lengthy discourse condemning Ms Jackson in the strongest terms possible for her crimes against her fellow workers. Your silence on that front is deafening.

  24. littlegreyrabbit – my thoughts exactly. I could never understand why he was apparently advised not to front up with his (seemingly irrefutable) evidence of forgery and fit-up (at least on some of the items on the credit card). This case just doesn’t make sense to a layperson. And it’s cost a fortune. Whatever happens, it doesn’t fit my amateur definition of justice.

  25. I heard this statement on our local radio station and thought oh dear, this is awful!
    “Former MP Craig Thomson lied about using a union credit card to pay for prostitutes because he was ashamed, his barrister says.”

    Will these radio stations be asked to withdraw that statement and make an amendment so thousands of people like me don’t get in our heads that he deceived his wife by using prostitutes?

  26. Angie – if Thomson did deceive his wife (and I am not aware of any allegation that he did), it would have been his former wife who was deceived, not his current wife.

  27. I have no idea what is what and where is where with this case. I suspect Craig Thomson went in to clean up the union and got fitted up by desperate rivals. I think the whole things smells and I would like all dirty linen aired and disinfected. I think the (alleged) biggest stink comes from the Liberal Party/Jacksonville postcodes. I base my analysis of Thomson’s character on his address to Parliament. He looked and sounded like an honest man to me, and that is good enough.

  28. Look, I know it is an impression I gained from one telecast of one speech by Craig Thomson amid the myriad of claims, counter-claims, media reports on court-cases, editorials and blogs. But my gut feeling is that CT is a good guy who got shafted.

  29. Hey Peter “the High Court judge” – you wouldn’t be that convicted criminal known as PAMK, alias Skyring, who fed that gullible flake, Kate McLIARmont, a Crock ‘O’ Shite that one of your relatives is a poor but honest HSU member, the former ACT Grand Poobah of Wun Nayshun in the ACT, the cab-driving loon who abused his position in the public service and dumped a pile of confidential documents on Vanstone’s desk, and who presently censors any anti-Abbott facts from Wikipedia… now, would you?

  30. After reading every word down to the letter Wixxy has written on the Craig Thomson setup, I am with you puffy. The phony Judge can get a long thick thing up his fundamental

  31. What you are all forgetting is that what is in court is only what could be proved. Of course he denies the prostitutes and use of the card, the fact remains someone used his card for hookers, union corruption was rife then and they were getting away with it, he just got caught. His main agenda is convincing his wife and you lot are also getting sucked into it.

  32. Zed, do you really think they left a stone unturned with Thomson.
    He does not deny he use of the card at all, in fact he agrees with all of it except the brothels which we have seen one hooker remember him as Jeff while another occurred while he was in another state which is verified by Qantas records. Yes someone made charges to brothels on his card that numerous people had access to, and how odd that we have Marco Bolano and Kathy Jackson also try to imply that a senior journalist from the Australian was also going there when they don’t like what he writes. Especially funny given the journo in question was based in the US at the time.
    The allegations are also from prior to him being in a relationship with his current wife.
    I’m not saying he is innocent, I’m just saying we are being spoon fed one side of the story and there are some elements that need far greater scrutiny

  33. As the Pope, I think you may be telling porkies about being a Hight Court Judge, although you may have got the high part right….

  34. Zed you sure the blinkers aren’t clouding a clear vision. I suspect you really don’t believe a word of his evidence. Plus nice contradiction in your previous…..” the fact remains someone used his card for hookers” then “he just got caught.” Which is it? someone or he? Do you really believe he misspelt his own name filling in the credit card charge slip. Put a T in where it never existed, c’mon really?
    “Union corruption was rife” ok that being so what was stopping a setup? Kathy Jackson hated his guts as proved by her Abbott applauded whistle blowing.
    Your comments re his wife were uncalled for and ill informed, you have absolutely no proof of it.
    i prefer to wait for the outcome of the appeal.

  35. Even the discussion on this blog, which has a comparatively small number of commenters, shows:

    Innocent until proven guilty is a concept which has been lost (even by lawyer politicians who of all people should know better).

    A lot of the MSM print selected facts, distortions, or lies which shows that journalistic standards and ethics have in large part been lost (and/or that much of the MSM is in league with the power elite).

    People in positions of power can ruin the life of anyone they seek to take down.

    A large section of the general public will reach a conclusion about guilt or innocence and cling to it in the face of any evidence.

    Apart from the declining standards of the MSM, none of this is new but it is sad for those of us who at one stage had hopes the society was gradually becoming more just and fair.

  36. Just noticed ths over on that turd Michael Smith’s site. There’s a rather damning quote in there Wixxy. Strange if true?
    “Thomson had publicly lied when the allegations emerged in a bid to “divert” attention from the scandal. “He was under attack as allegedly misusing the money by spending it on prostitutes,” Mr James said. “To rebut that, he lies. He was under direct attack for moral turpitude … he was lying to divert the inquiry from him in ­respect of that moral turpitude.”

    Judge Douglas replied that she recalled the interview Thomson gave to journalist Laurie Oakes in which he denied using escorts and said factional enemies with access to his credit cards had threatened to set him up.

    Thomson has opted not to fight the evidence of his credit card use in court, agreeing to a statement of undisputed facts that Judge Douglas will rely on to decide whether the charges are proven.

    Thomson has repeatedly maintained his innocence, describing the ­undisputed facts as a tactic to save on legal costs.”

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