Pieces Of Truth – Craig Thomson, my view and News Ltds distortion of some facts and fabrication of others

Posted: September 12, 2013 in HSU Saga, Media, Politics

I am always asked my opinion on what has happened with the HSU, and in particular my thoughts on Craig Thomsons guilt or innocence.

Given that Thomsons matter was once again in court earlier this week with reports on what happened varying despite it amounting to nothing in the end, I thought it may be an appropriate time seeing as I have not given my opinion thus far.

Bearing in mind this is only my opinion, and is based on what I have seen and heard so far on the matter.

Firstly I don’t believe that Craig has rorted the union members.

As pointed out in The Financial Review the other day even with some of the charges that involve living away from home expenses while away on business the total amount of equates to approximately $150 a week for whilst he was union secretary. Not quite the huge amount of dollars some in the mainstream media and Coalition would have us believe.

When it comes to the brothels it will probably come as no surprise to you that I am of the impression Craig has been set up. My reasoning is that given the history of the factional brawling and tactics used in the past in regards to brothels and the threats allegedly made to “set people up” with prostitutes it seems highly likely that those who set out to destroy him would go down that route.

Knowing that where Thomson and the press are combined that bulls**t will invariably fly, a passerby ducks for cover

Knowing that where Thomson and the press are combined that bulls**t will invariably fly, a passerby ducks for cover

I have also considered that the original evidence produced by Fairfax in relation to credit card slips has all been quashed and is not considered evidence any longer. In fact despite years of searching for further evidence including serving subpoenas on countless brothels all over the country so far nothing has surfaced.

What this allegation is based on appears to be credit card statements for a credit card for which everybody working within a union in the midst of a factional battle had access to the details of. Anybody who has ever paid for something on the phone or online with a credit card can tell you how easy it is to make something appear on a statement.

Given that one of these supposed brothel visits occurred in Sydney while Craig was in Perth makes the allegations look even more like they have been concocted. Evidence for that alleged brothel visit is highly circumstantial to say the least given it is only the credit card statement, whereas Thomson has his alibi verified by a hotel booking and Qantas boarding passes.

As for all of the other charges I believe the vast majority of these are valid work expenses for expenses incurred whilst away from home on business. I also believe that spousal travel is acceptable where there are work events being held, and someone who spends a lot of time away from home in their work should not be dragged through court to explain why spending time with their wife was important. These are not luxury holidays as some would have us believe.

The question with the other charges related to credit card expenditure are a matter of whether Craig had authorisation to use the card as he saw fit or not. That will be determined by the court and I don’t really have an opinion on whether that is true or not although I have not seen any guidelines for credit card usage in the HSU rules for the period Thomson was secretary.

What I do think that Thomson may be guilty of if anything, is putting the odd personal expense on the union card. I don’t mean things like holidays and jewellery as Thomson’s accuser Kathy Jackson appears to have done, I mean things like coming home late at night from a work function, stopping for fuel in the company car and when discovering you have no cash on you putting a pack of smokes on the card when you pay for fuel, that type of thing.

Whilst this may be wrong, it is usually overlooked and shrugged off as anybody who meets this many people and travels this much in their job always incurs work expenses out of their own pocket that they don’t get back or obtain receipts for. These would include things like occasional coffees or a round of drinks, parking meters which back then did not accept credit cards or give receipts, road tolls which back then were predominantly paid with change from the car ashtray, the list goes on… My point being that these things tend to balance out with the odd pack of smokes, chewing gum or ice-cream.

Again, this is just my opinion, I could be way off the mark.

The reason I would assume Craig won’t plead guilty to these charges I’d assume is he believes he had authority to use the card.

The reason would not be disputing facts in the case is that each fact costs a fortune to dispute, and as we know lawyers don’t come cheap and Craig isn’t exactly flush with funds.

Craig as most would be aware did not succeed in his bid to be re-elected as an Independent MP in the seat of Dobell on September 7.

Therefore Craig has suddenly found himself without an income and facing mounting legal costs that seem to have no end in sight.

Craig and Zoe arrive for yet another expensive day in court

Craig and his wife Zoe arrive for yet another expensive day in court

Some sections of the main stream media have been predictable in their reporting of events involving the case.

The Australian on September 10 gave a great insight as to how the media has been portraying these events. In her opening paragraph Pia Akerman states;

“Ousted MP Craig Thomson will not dispute specific facts of the allegations that he used union credit cards to pay for escort services and pornographic movies, a court has heard.”

However Thomsons Barrister Greg James QC has clearly stated that Craig’s not disputing facts

“Is not an admission to allegations”

Even in her own report Pia Akerman says for those who made it to the bottom of her piece about the Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg not giving access to the disputed facts to reporters.

“Mr Rozencwajg refused to grant reporters access to the preliminary list of undisputed facts”

So what then does she base her opening paragraph on? Gut feel, a hunch, a vendetta, or just wishful thinking? Perhaps this is what some call “editorial licence”.

Pia Akerman

Pia Akerman

What I didn’t find any coverage, commentary, nor reporting on was the Magistrates opening remarks. This is hardly surprising though given that the Magistrate came out highly critical of the reporting of Pia Akerman and Ean Higgins on the hearing of the matter the previous week.

The Magistrate was critical as he felt the reporting in The Australian article misinterpreted the events and had given an inaccurate portrayal of the proceedings.

Yesterday I approached Pia Akerman for comment on this by phone.

Ms Akerman refused to go into the matter only saying that her interpretation of the Magistrates comments were that he had not liked the headline, and then deferred me to her editor saying she would pass my query on to them for comment.

However my impression is that this would clearly not be the first time Akerman has misinterpreted the Magistrate’s words, and I would be comfortable assuming that the magistrate knows the difference between a headline and an article.

Despite asking for a comment from her editor I have yet to receive a response, although yesterday afternoon I received a written response from Ms Akerman that simply stated.

Hi Peter,

My comment is simply as I said on the phone: I stand by the story.

Regards,

Pia Akerman
Journalist
The Australian

It is great that Akerman stands behind her story, however the magistrate overseeing the matter certainly doesn’t appear to think a great deal of it given his comments.

In regards to the headline that boldly states;

“Court rejects Craig Thomson’s denials”

This is a complete and utter fabrication as there were no denials from Thomson or his defence for the court to deny. In fact Magistrate Rozencwajg stated that the headline was

“Completely at odds with the facts”

Another example of the complete and utter lies thrown into the story was this gem

Mr Thomson, now an independent candidate for the NSW central coast seat of Dobell after he was suspended from the Labor Party, is facing 173 criminal charges over allegations he misused hundreds of thousands of dollars of union funds

Hundreds of thousands of dollars? Really?

I was under the impression it was closer to $28,000 in total, as was the defence, the prosecution, and the Magistrate.

Maybe next time around The Australian should try for millions, billions, or trillions, or try the facts for a refreshing change.

In fact the magistrate was so impressed with the balanced reporting he not only was critical of it in open court, he went a step further.

 The Australian article dated September 3rd 2013 has been condenned as factually incorrect by the Magistrate and may be referred to the Australian Press Council for whatever action is appropraite for its authors Ean Highins and Pia Akerman.

Not really a good look for the article that Pia Akerman stands by.

It is not often that a magistrate or judge goes so far as to publivly condem a newspaper artice or refer its authors to the Australian Press Council, so I am hoping that the level of reporting from The Australian will pick up a few notches. Given the coverage of Mondays court mention however I won’t be holding my breath.

Ean Higgins faces possible contempt of court charges for his reporting

Ean Higgins condemned by Magistrate for his reporting

Magistrate Rozencwajg also saved criticism for the prosecution querying why there had been a need for a court mention in the week of the election.

The prosecution as you may remember reading in my article on the matter requested a mention last week. When it was granted nothing new was introduced and nothing was gained or learned. What it did do however was waste the courts time, the taxpayers money and give The Australian a chance to smear Thomson in the week leading up to the election.

In my article last week I suggested that it seemed as though the whole court mention was set up to give News Ltd a story. Now that theory seems even more plausible.

It would seem to me from his words and actions that Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg doesn’t like being used as a media and political puppet and appears to be pulling them into line. Who can blame him?

Where this saga will end up is anybody’s guess. So far the prosecution have managed to drag out the matter without offering evidence for what seems like an eternity.

Now that there is no real political mileage to be gained in pursuing the matter I wonder if the Coalition will continue to think it is worthwhile to spend millions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of police hours and waste endless court time chasing what amounts to less than $28K.

Whether you think Thomson is innocent, or whether you believe the likes of Akerman and Higgins, one thing is for sure Thomson has been more than punished for anything he may have done. He has effectively been put in stocks in the city square and been left there for the public to hurl things at. No matter how this case turns out he will spend many years as the punch line in a joke about hookers.

Time to ponder on his future?

Time to ponder on his future?

Given his lack of income as of Saturday, those of you who still believe Thomson should have an adequate defence against the Coalitions prosecution machine can still donate to Thomson’s legal fighting fund via the link below.

Craig Thomson Legal Defence Fund.

It is my opinion that if this were really about retrieving stolen union funds and not a political witch-hunt then we should be seeing just as much focus and just as many investigation hours dedicated to looking into Kathy Jackson and her time controlling the HSU number 3 branch. We have already seen evidence uncovered of apparent spending of union members money that makes Thomson’s matter pale in insignificance, details of this evidence can be found on the Wixxyleaks Jacksonville resource page.

For those of you who take in interest in this case, I would recommend taking anything that is read in the mainstream media, particularly The Australian with a grain of salt the size of the rock of Gibraltar.

I will continue to report on events to do with the case as they develop.

People after all deserve the truth.

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

Comments
  1. hilderombout says:

    I just contributed again to Craig Thomson’s legal defence fund. I did the first time as well. I am a pensioner but i gave what i can because i feel so strongly that he is been unjustly treated and i want him to get justice in court. I am sorry that he can’t be vindicated whilst serving in Parliament and his community i suspect is the poorer for not having him represent them, but even more than before i think he needs our support. Thank you so much for keeping us informed Peter.

  2. clarittee says:

    IF it wasn’t for you Peter , we would hear little of this. If journalists are being accused of BAD or illegal behaviour, why doesn’t that significant piece of news break through to the surface. They are all scared of Murdoch. Look at the dogshit ad that none of them would run. Keep it up Wixxy.

  3. Marilyn says:

    Kate McClymont is the one who started this filth, she should be sued. But I believe Craig will have super to fall back on.

  4. Bridget says:

    As a Union Member Wixxy just how much is it permissible for a union secretary to misappropriate 28K, 128K, 228k? I think whether it be KJ, CT or whoever, if found guilty, they should have the book thrown at them – lest it become acceptable.

    • wixxy says:

      Not permissible to misappropriate any funds at all.

      What I am saying is that I don’t believe they were inappropriate spending, except obviously the brothels which he has denied.

      A certain amount of spousal travel is acceptable, as is a glass of wine with dinner when away on business.

      In fact living away from home allowances are something unions have fought for for years. By law he is entitled to what he could reasonably expect at home. That includes a meal and a drink, maybe even the occasional in house movie.

      Tallying 5 years worth of legitimate expenses that include spousal travel clearly adds up so the figure sounds more spectacular than it is.

      If he is guilty, he should be penalised, but I don’t believe this is the case

    • Marilyn says:

      Bridget even the stupid FWA report relied on was shown to be based on lies and stated that there were no rules for the use of the card, he broke the rule.

      Why that could be considered rorting or illegal beats me.

  5. Dez says:

    Pia Akerman showing she is as poisonous a toad as her dickhead father.

  6. Shame media monopoly reforms can’t be extended to ensure one family can’t contribute such a relentless supply of vile rubbish as ‘news’. Like father like daughter.

  7. Gypjor says:

    Thank you Peter for keeping us all updated on this awful situation for Craig Thomson and his family. I just do not know how Mr Thomson manages to get up in the mornings. We wish and pray (even though we are not religious) that he survives through this and is able to totally clear his name. Hopefully then he finds the resolve to take these bast…..ds for every cent they’ve got.

  8. Fed up says:

    Time will soon tell, for Slipper as well as Thomson. Abbott still needs something on Gillard, to justify his attacks, he intends to make on the unions.

    I believe the Wilson saga is also coming to an end.

    Looking forwarded to seeing Bought and Pyne in the same situation.

  9. jane says:

    There’s a tv program called “Karma’s A Bitch”. I hope it’s right and comes back to bite all those involved in the smearing of Craig Thomson.

    I sincerely hope he sues all those involved for a humungous amount and wins and that they are also marched off to gaol for a decent term.

    What these unprincipled liars have done for base political gain is to bring an innocent man and his family to the point of utter financial ruin, not to mention the emotional toll it must have taken.

    Thanks for all the work you’ve done on this wixxy. If it hadn’t been for your dogged pursuit of the REAL corruption involved in this sordid affair, nobody would have known the truth of the matter.

    The Liars Party & the Murdoch & Fairfax press should also be exposed publicly for its role & hopefully will be.

  10. Peter Johnson says:

    I believe the whole thing was a ploy to unstable the labor party and Abbott had a part in it.We still have to see the results of Abbott day in court for his part in the demise of Pauline Hanson or maybe it will just be slipped under the carpet like a so called DUI person getting off scott free.Justice was not see to be done.

  11. […] on the 12th September 2013 I posted an article called “Pieces Of Truth” that looked at the coverage of Craig Thomson’s criminal case by News Ltd, particularly The […]

  12. […] on the 12th September 2013 I posted an article called “Pieces Of Truth” that looked at the coverage of Craig Thomson’s criminal case by News Ltd, particularly The […]

  13. […] Higgins goes on to refer to the piece I published on September 12th  that I spoke of earlier. […]

  14. […] Higgins goes on to refer to the piece I published on September 12th  that I spoke of earlier. […]

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