ACT News


Peter Slipper wants charges dismissed on mental health grounds

Former federal politician Peter Slipper will ask a Canberra court to drop the fraud charges against him on mental health grounds.

Slipper's lawyer told the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday his client wished to be dealt with under a section of the Crimes Act reserved for those suffering mental illness.

Defence lawyer Trent Jones previously told the court his client had been in and out of mental health facilities for an unspecified period.

The law allows the courts to dismiss charges against a defendant who suffers from mental illness.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker listed the hearing for June 25.

The date is five days before Slipper is expected to front the Federal Court over claims he sexually harassed his former aide James Ashby.


Slipper did not attend Monday’s mention.

The former parliamentary speaker has pleaded not guilty to three charges he dishonestly used about $1000 worth of Cabcharge vouchers to take a taxpayer-funded wine-tasting tour of Canberra in 2010.

 A few weeks ago, the former member for Fisher lost another attempt to permanently suspend the charges.

He previously failed to have the allegations permanently stayed in the ACT Magistrates Court, but then took the case to the ACT Supreme Court seeking review of that decision.

Slipper’s barrister, Kylie Weston-Scheuber, argued that the case would breach parliamentary privilege and was an abuse of process.

Slipper claims he conducted parliamentary business during the trip.

The claim meant a magistrate would need to decide what constituted such business in determining the case, and that, Slipper's lawyer argued, was not a matter for the courts to decide.

The defence argued the appropriate forum for investigating such allegations was Federal Parliament, not the courts.

But Justice John Burns rejected that argument earlier this month, upholding the original decision by Ms Walker.

In dismissing Slipper's application, the judge found Ms Walker had been correct to find that parliamentary privilege had not been engaged.

Justice Burns confirmed the magistrate had been entitled to hear the case and defer questions of parliamentary privilege until she had heard all the evidence.

Ms Walker had also been correct to rule circumstances did not deprive Slipper of the opportunity of a fair trial, and were not an abuse of process, Justice Burns wrote in his judgment.