Facing 48 charges ... Michael Williamson. Photo: Louise Kennerley
FOR the past eight months, instead of carrying out union boss Michael Williamson's alleged requests to destroy documents, including American Express card statements, John and Carron Gilleland have been secretly assisting police.
The stunning revelation came to light when a raft of criminal charges against Mr Williamson were outlined at Waverley Local Court last week.
"Our clients have co-operated with the police with the fullest access to all possible information for the past eight months and on every occasion the police have sought assistance it has been given," the Gillelands' solicitor, Simon Konstantinidis, confirmed in a statement to Fairfax Media.
Assisting police ... John Gilleland, who was asked by Michael Williamson to destroy documents. Photo: Ben Rushton
For more than a decade the Gillelands' company Communigraphix was paid handsomely, without ever going to tender, to produce a newsletter for the Health Services Union.
Last year Fairfax Media revealed that Mr Williamson and the federal MP Craig Thomson, the union's former national secretary, had been provided with American Express cards attached to John Gilleland's account.
When applying to American Express for the additional credit cards, Mr Gilleland indicated the two men were his brothers-in-law.
The Gillelands have been co-operating with police since officers from Strike Force Carnarvon raided their Palm Beach house in February.
Their solicitor said the raid was unnecessary. "If the police had asked our clients for this information, they would have provided it.''
Court documents presented to Waverley Local Court on Wednesday revealed that Mr Williamson is facing 48 criminal charges, including money laundering, which attracts a potential 15-year-jail term, as well as cheating and defrauding the union of $620,000.
The 59-year-old has also been charged with recruiting a number of people, including the Gillelands, to hinder the police investigation.
The head of Strike Force Carnarvon, Detective Superintendent Col Dyson, said that although Mr Williamson was charged with recruiting other people to assist in carrying out criminal activity, namely to hinder police, a number of those people refused to assist Mr Williamson. He did not disclose who they were.
Mr Konstantinidis said that while one of the police charges alleged Mr Williamson recruited the Gillelands to hinder the police, "our clients did not get involved with Mr Williamson at any time".
He said the Gillelands had not been charged with any criminal offences, nor were they likely to be charged. ''The Gillelands did not offer or pay secret commissions to Mr Williamson or anyone else in the union,'' he said.
Another of the charges Mr Williamson is facing is that he recruited Brad Bird to hinder police. Mr Bird was a fellow director of Mr Williamson's company United Edge, which received $1 million a year to provide the HSU with IT services. Mr Bird also declined Mr Williamson's request to delete key computer files.
The recent death of the architect Ron Mah-Chut, 76, is likely to put an end to one avenue of the police investigation.
Mr Mah-Chut's firm received $3.4 million from the HSU over 4½ years up to September last year, an internal inquiry conducted by barrister Ian Temby and accountant Dennis Robertson found.
Mr Mah-Chut, while admitting no wrongdoing, told the inquiry he had provided Mr Williamson with a discount on the private work he performed on Mr Williamson's Lake Macquarie holiday house.
As part of his bail conditions, Mr Williamson has been ordered not to approach or contact the Gillelands, Mr Bird, the HSU East branch's former acting general secretary, Peter Mylan, or the union whistleblower Kathy Jackson.
Police have indicated more charges against Mr Williamson are pending.
His matter will be back in court on January 24.