Lawyer: ‘The great cliché of a bad TV show’
Craig Thomson's solicitor, Chris McArdle, claims police demonstrated goon-like behaviour during their strip search of his client.PT0M59S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2dptr 620 349 February 1, 2013
Craig Thomson's lawyer has threatened to sue Barry O'Farrell if the NSW Premier does not withdraw comments he made about allegations against the federal MP.
On Friday, Mr O'Farrell dismissed claims by Mr Thomson's lawyer, Chris McArdle, that his client was stripped naked and searched by court officers after his arrest on the NSW Central Coast in an attempt to intimidate him.
Mr Thomson faces 150 charges of fraud related to the alleged misuse of entitlements when he was national secretary of the Health Services Union.
"I think Mr Thomson and his lawyer need to calm down a bit," NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said. Photo: James Brickwood
Mr O'Farrell told reporters that standard procedure was followed by the corrective services officers during Mr Thomson's arrest.
"I'd only be concerned if there was special treatment meted out to any member of parliament,'' he said.
"I think Mr Thomson and his lawyer need to calm down a bit - after all, the allegations surrounding Craig Thomson is that he was all too ready to take his clothes off in front of strangers in exchange for money."
Mr McArdle has described the comments are ''completely unacceptable'' and called on Mr O'Farrell to withdraw them and apologise.
''He has said some extremely unsavoury things about our client that suggests that he has pre-judged him and has prejudiced the proceedings that have been initiated,'' Mr McArdle told Fairfax Radio on Friday.
''A premier can do a lot of harm because strangely enough, premiers have credibility, so he has used his credibility to prejudge our client.''
Mr McArdle said he expected ''greater wisdom'' from Mr O'Farrell.
''If he withdraws and apologises and admits that he was making a pathetic attempt at humour, we may reconsider, but if he doesn't then definitely he'll be on the list [for defamation].''
The lawyer added that there were others on the list.
Mr O'Farrell was not worried by Mr McArdle's threat, saying he would "sleep easily tonight."
He told 2GB Radio that he had "nothing to apologise for," and pointed out that he had used the word "allegation" in his initial comments.
"In fact Mr McArdle ought to start to take back some of the comments that he’s made today about police and corrective services officials," he said.
"At the risk of adding to this story we seem to have a lawyer who wants to be the celebrity of this case."
Last year Mr McArdle said that his client – who is accused of using Health Services Union funds to pay for prostitutes and cash withdrawals – had never used other people's money or his own to pay for sex: ''anyone who says the opposite will be sued.''
Mr Thomson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Court documents state the alleged offences occurred between February 2003 and April 2008.
Mr Thomson's matter will come before Melbourne Magistrates Court next Wednesday.
Mr McArdle also told Fairfax Radio on Friday that he was asking for an agreement with the Victoria Police to adjourn the matter for two weeks because the date clashed with a parliamentary sittings.
''It is actually illegal to summon a sitting member of parliament before a court on a day on which that parliament is sitting,'' he said.
Mr McArdle said it breached section 14 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act and his constituents in the NSW Central Coast seat of Dobell would be ''denied his vote''.
This comes as Fair Work Australia's civil case against Mr Thomson has been adjourned for a month and may be stayed pending the resolution of criminal charges laid against the MP.
The civil trial, relating to Thomson's alleged misuse of union funds between 2003 and 2008, had been scheduled to begin in June but under the Fair Work Act, civil cases are suspended if criminal proceedings are launched regarding the same conduct.
Appearing in the Federal Court in Melbourne on Friday morning, lawyers for both sides agreed they needed time to assess the criminal charges and Justice Jessup adjourned the case until March 1.
After the hearing, Mr McArdle said he understood that there was a substantial'' overlap between the civil and criminal charges.
On Thursday night, Mr McArdle, who is representing Mr Thomson ''in his fight against 150 charges, including theft and fraud, said his client was strip-searched by two court officers after being arrested via a warrant from Victoria Police about 1pm on Thursday at his electorate office at Tuggerah.
''These two goons put on rubber gloves, one stood in front of him, one stood behind him, and they said 'take off your shirt','' Mr McArdle told the Network Ten.
''They examined his shirt to see if there were any Molotov cocktails.
''He had to take all of his clothes off and stand naked in front of these two galoots who then took him into the court and sat each side of him.''
Mr McArdle described the treatment of his client as an ''absolutely extraordinary intimidation of an innocent man''.
Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said that strip searches were a standard procedure for people coming into custody and that there were no reports of any use of force against Mr Thomson.
''Every person who comes into Corrective Services custody is subject to a strip-search to locate contraband including drugs, mobile phones and other banned items,'' he said on Friday.
''This is for the safety and security of staff and most of all, for the inmates themselves, to prevent incidents of self-harm. Every person is treated the same. Mr Thomson would not have been touched during the search and there is no report of any use of force involving Mr Thomson.''
The former Labor member represented himself during a brief bail application in local court yesterday that police did not oppose.
With Vince Chadwick, AAP