Conroy Admits: Labor Party Paid for Craig Thomson Legal Fees

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By Vittorio Hernandez | May 10, 2012 7:14 PM EST

Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy admitted on Thursday that the party paid for the legal fees of former Labor MP Craig Thomson, which he stressed was a normal procedure.

Mr Conroy disclosed that the Australian Labor Party agreed in September to hire the law firm Holding Redlich and pay lawyers to help Mr Thomson address accusations that he misused union money to pay for the services of prostitutes and his personal expense.

A Fair World Australia report released this week said Mr Thomson spent $500,000 of union funds on prostitutes, for personal expenses and to fund his 2007 campaign for the federal seat of Dobell while he was the head of the Health Services Union between 2002 and 2007. Mr Thomson denied any wrongdoing.

MPs are mandated to report all their external holdings, gifts and assistance to the clerk of the House of Representatives within 28 days. Mr Thomson said he did not break parliamentary rules since he received financial help for his legal fees from the ALP only in the last two weeks.

However, Mr Conroy said that since Mr Thomson stopped being a member of the Labor caucus, the political party stopped paying his legal bills when the latter moved to the crossbench in April.

The minister noted that many parliamentarians often fail to file out paperwork on time, but because of the heightened circumstance in the case of the former Labor MP, Mr Thomson should make an effort to keep up to date his paperwork.

Mr Thomson amended on Wednesday night his pecuniary interest register. Prime Minister and ALP leader Julia Gillard said that the MP should have done it earlier.

She stressed that she was not involved in the legal fee payment between Mr Thomson and the New South Wales Labor Party

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