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Statement says Jackson knew about graft claims for a decade

Date

Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Ben Schneiders

Lack of accountability concern: The HSU's Kathy Jackson.

Lack of accountability concern: The HSU's Kathy Jackson. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Self-professed union whistleblower Kathy Jackson used $1 million in members' funds to pay off two personal credit cards she claims to have used on work expenses between 2000 and 2011.

Documents prepared for the royal commission into unions also reveal that between 2007 and 2010, Ms Jackson withdrew a further $220,000 in cash using union bank cheques.

A Fairfax Media investigation has also obtained a leaked NSW police statement that alleges Ms Jackson knew of serious corruption claims involving Health Services Union boss Michael Williamson and Craig Thomson more than a decade before she reported the pair to police in 2011.

The witness, Sydney businesswoman Carron Gilleland, told detectives she asked for Ms Jackson's help in 1999 after discovering the possible ''illicit'' use of union members' funds by the pair.

The leaked police statement and other documents also suggest that a private company directed by Ms Jackson and her then husband Jeff Jackson was used both as a slush fund and a vehicle for charging the union for ''industrial consulting'' fees in the late 1990s.

The revelations raise fresh questions about Ms Jackson's campaign to portray herself as a union and ALP whistleblower, a position for which she has been praised by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and used by some to justify the royal commission into union corruption.

Supporters of Ms Jackson are preparing a fresh legal action to place the HSU - for which she still serves as national secretary - into administration.

Ms Jackson did not respond to any questions put to her by Fairfax Media.

This newspaper is not suggesting she engaged in criminal conduct. But health services union officials are so concerned about the lack of accountability around Ms Jackson's use of union funds they are sending the banking documents to the royal commission.

Ms Gilleland made the allegation in a sworn police statement in 2012, during the inquiry into since convicted HSU bosses Williamson and Thomson.

''Why did it take Kathy Jackson over a decade to bring this information forward?'' a source close to the police investigation said.

The police statements allege that a printing company owned by Ms Gilleland and which was working for the HSU provided Williamson and Thomson with credit cards in late 1997.

The statement alleges the cards were supplied after Williamson pressured Ms Gilleland and said that the provision of non-union credit cards would make it harder for Williamson and Thomson's union expenses to be used for muckraking in political campaigns.

Ms Gilleland, who declined to comment to Fairfax Media, alleged to police that when she learned in 1998 that the cards were being abused and used for personal expenses, she sought help from Ms Jackson and her then husband and fellow senior HSU official Jeff Jackson.

''We never suspected that the AMEX cards would be used at a personal level and paid for at the expense of the members of the health services union,'' the police statement states.

''I was speaking with Kathy and Jeff because I wanted some help and advice about how to extricate ourselves from the illicit arrangement.''

After receiving no assistance from the Jacksons or other union officials, Ms Gilleland cancelled the cards in April 1999.

The supply of the cards remained a union secret until 2011, when the corruption allegations were leaked to the media and Ms Jackson reported Williamson and Thomson to the NSW police.

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