Craig Thomson 'did not deceive'
Craig Thomson only used credit cards and a Flight Centre account that he was authorised to use, his barrister tells his trial in Melbourne.PT1M34S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-31mu3 620 349 January 29, 2014
The case against Craig Thomson could hinge on the wording of charges against him, with a barrister for the former federal MP arguing he had never claimed to be anyone other than the person authorised to use his union-issue credit cards and accounts.
Defence barrister Greg James, QC, delivered his closing submission on Wednesday, telling Melbourne Magistrates' Court his client did not obtain any property or financial advantage by deception during the period he was national secretary of the Health Services Union, from 2002 to 2007.
Card use: Craig Thomson at court. Photo: Ken Irwin
Mr James did not deny the transactions Mr Thomson is accused of making took place, but also did not openly say his client had used union funds for personal expenses.
Instead, he argued Mr Thomson did not deceive lending institutions because he had only ever used HSU credit cards and a Flight Centre account he was authorised to use.
''The service providers couldn't care less about his internal relationships with the HSU, all they care about is whether the bank or Diners Club would honour the transaction. And if they got paid, and they [were],'' Mr James told the court.
Mr Thomson is accused of using HSU credit cards and a Flight Centre account to accrue more than $28,000 in personal expenses, including sexual services, adult films in hotel rooms and flights for his then wife, Christa, during his term as national secretary. He is also accused of withdrawing cash from union accounts for himself.
The prosecution alleges he continued using HSU funds for personal expenses even after he left the union to become the Labor member for the NSW seat of Dobell.
Charge sheets allege Mr Thomson was accused of defrauding the Commonwealth Bank and Diners Club, but the prosecution maintains the HSU was the victim, as it was the union that had had its money illegally spent.
Mr Thomson, 49, has pleaded not guilty to more than 140 charges of fraud and theft.
Mr James said Mr Thomson's conduct could make him guilty in a civil case or Fair Work Australia hearing, or had the prosecution applied more simply-worded criminal charges, such as failing to account for his spending.
But he said his client was not guilty of the charges against him, including obtaining financial advantage by deception, because he ''made no false representation to Diners Club or Flight Centre as a person entitled to use the card''.
What the money was used for did not matter so long as purchases were legal, Mr James said.
Mr James admitted Mr Thomson might have mistakenly used a union-issued credit card to buy cigarettes and firewood for his then wife, and that he denied allegations against him to save himself personal and political embarrassment.
After the defence's submission, magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg heard argument from both sides over whether it was the card providers or the HSU that had allegedly been defrauded.
Mr Rozencwajg will now begin deliberations, and has asked the parties to be on standby for Friday.