Archive for the ‘HSU Saga’ Category

Today in Melbourne Magistrates Court Craig Thomson faced the Magistrate and the media once again.

Magistrate Rozencwajg handed down a sentence of one year in prison to Thomson in a packed court room.

Thomson had been found guilty of several counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception in court last month, despite those charges not being on the list of charges at the time of the trial, something that has baffled many.

At the start of the trial Magistrate Rozencwajg had told both the Prosecution and the Defence that the whole case was a matter of authorisation. Upon hearing that the Defence based their case on proving authorisation, however in his findings after the case had been argued the Magistrate chose not to take the matter of authorisation into account at all.

Then between the trial and sentencing the police were given permission to “re-word” the charges before sentencing. This effectively created new charges that Thomson would not be given a chance to defend before being sentenced on them.

Thomson, was now facing sentencing for these new undefended charges and was in court to hear the sentence handed down. The total dollar figure relating to the charges is $24,538.42, which Thomson has agreed to repay.

Greg James QC had last week urged Magistrate Rozencwajg to not sentence Thomson to prison as he has suffered enough after his very public ordeal.

James had also claimed that Thomson is suffering from a major depressive illness.

Today the Magistrate ignored those pleas.

craig thomson

Thomson has spent the best part of four years being attacked in the media and being turned into a punchline for any joke involving brothels, prostitutes, or even credit cards. He has suffered humiliation after humiliation.

The attack from the media on Thomson has been relentless and often seemed to be more about a vendetta than straight reporting of facts.

There have been that many cases of sloppy journalism, deliberate printing of lies, distortion of facts, and plain negligence in the media trial of Craig Thomson that it has kept me busy writing for years.

It is clear that this hasn’t stopped.

The way the last weeks events were reported in the press one could have easily assumed that Thomson had admitted through his lawyer to what he had been accused of and was throwing himself at the mercy of the court.

There were reports of admissions of his client using union funds to pay for escort services from Thomson’s lawyer Greg James QC.

What the mainstream press ignored is that this is a sentencing hearing, not a part of trial as such. Thomson had no options to plead innocence as he had already been found guilty.

The so-called admissions were actually submissions based on the findings of guilt by the court.

For the layman they are scenario’s that are offered up as explanations in order to reduce a sentence that is based on behavior that the court has assumed as factual. What they are not, are admissions of guilt.

Those reporting events seemed to have forgotten that Thomson still had the option of an appeal open to him, and those reporting incorrectly about admissions from Thomson would have their articles exposed as either enormous errors or intentional misrepresentations of events should Thomson appeal the charges.

Today they have been reminded.

Sources close to Thomson have stated that there will be an appeal on both the sentence and the charges.

Why would someone admit to something and then launch an appeal?

I would assume the media will distance themselves from their earlier comments.

Last week Prosecutor Lesley Taylor SC stated last week that anything less than jail would be

Manifestly inadequate”

Taylor went on to say that Thomson had shown no remorse for his actions. It has been my experience that most people don’t tend to show remorse for something they claim they haven’t done and seek to raise a legal appeal against.

Personally I always thought that a jail sentence would be quite perverse even if Thomson is in fact guilty and had chosen not to appeal his sentence. Not for the reasons that Greg James QC has spoken of however, as if there are any mental health issues to speak of they should have been brought up years ago, and if he is guilty after all, then the years of attacks from the media could have been avoided by an earlier admission, say around three years ago.

A jail sentence would be perverse because the attack on Thomson was led by a few people in particular.

Tony Abbott for example, has defrauded the taxpayer of a similar amount of money to what Thomson is accused of, some of it has however since been repaid after it was exposed to the public. Abbott did performed his alleged crimes via expense claims for weddings, claiming travel from the taxpayer to go on fun runs and cycling events, and even for the marketing of his book Battlelines. Apparently on Planet Abbott, the public should foot the bill for these things.

Tony Abbott appears to look out the closed window of a private jet whilst shining a light into his own face

Another book to promote Tony?

George Brandis who interfered with the police by continually pushing them to make a case against Thomson was pressured to finally pay back to the taxpayer the money he claimed to attend the wedding of former shock jock and right-wing blogger Michael Smith.

Speaking of Michael Smith, he was there in court last week to see the event unfold accompanied by none other than Kathy Jackson and Marco Bolano, two others who have led the attack on Thomson.

These three showing up together like the Three Musketeers on crack is a clear indication of Smith’s bias in the case and also exposes the political leanings of Jackson and Bolano.

Should Jackson or Bolano (or his partner for that matter) run in the upcoming HSU elections members would be wise to remember that they accompanied Smith, a notorious cheerleader for the right-wing who seek to destroy both union movement and workers rights to court in a desperate bid to find a camera or microphone they could stand in front of.

Jackson is yet to be held to account for the allegations of vast amounts of spending of union members funds whilst she was secretary, amounts that make the allegations against Thomson seem like pocket-money by comparison.

Jackson and Bolano were in court again today to hear the sentence handed down to Thomson, Jackson making the interstate trip for the occasion, and Bolano taking time out from his busy schedule of being on workers compensation at the taxpayers expense.

Marco Bolano - struggling at home on a huge compenstaion claim at the taxpayers expense

Marco Bolano -hard work this workers comp gig…

There was some good news for Thomson last week however, the media attention was somewhat diverted away from his sentencing hearing by the shocking allegations of corruption against Arthur Sinodinos.

The allegations against Sinodinos have served to highlight the hypocrisy of those in the Coalition and in particular Tony Abbott.

Abbott and the Coalition you may recall wanted Craig Thomson removed from parliament as soon as the allegations were made against him, even before charges were laid.

With Arthur Sinodinos it is different apparently. In fact he has the total backing and support of Tony Abbott and the Coalition.

Allegations against Thomson total $24,538.42, Sinodinos allegedly stood to make a tidy $20 Million. Rather than Thomson’s alleged $24.5K over 5 years, Sinodinos was collecting $200K per year

Those expecting to see another childish bolt from parliament by Liberal Senators when Sinodinos casts a vote like Abbott and Pyne did in 2012 need not hold their breath waiting, tainted votes are OK when they come from a Liberal MP apparently.

The ICAC investigation into Sinodinos will take a while to run its course and just like Thomson, all of the Liberal MP’s that are now facing ICAC should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Arthur Sinodinos - In the $20 Million hotseat

Arthur Sinodinos – In the $20 Million hotseat

Innocent until proven guilty is a concept that Craig Thomson has only been able to dream about.

Those who profit from his trial by media have not allowed this basic human right be granted to Thomson.

In fact, contrary to what Lesley Taylor SC may claim it is the press that has shown no remorse when it comes to reporting falsehoods, and the justice system that has shown no remorse for allowing the charges to be changed and denying Thomson the civil right he has to defend himself against the charges.

Let’s hope next time around his basic human rights are respected.

Guilty or not, everybody deserves that right. Even the worst of Nazi war criminals was given the opportunity to defend the charges against them without them being changed after the event.

No matter what you think of Thomson personally the legal process that he has been forced to endure should alarm anybody who believes in both justice and the possibility of a fair trial.

Today those in the media who reported events falsely last week were exposed, however it remains to see if they will learn a lesson from it. Given the history of reporting from those in the main stream on this case, I have my doubts.

They can be measured by the truckload.

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Monday 3rd March was to be D-Day for Michael Williamson, and in a way I suppose it was.

Williamson has had his bail revoked and has been remanded in custody while awaiting his sentence to be handed down on the 28th March after which it is expected to be spending even more time in custody.

The court heard how Williamson grew up in poverty and wished to spare his children the hardship of a life like he had as a child.

That to me seems like a totally plausible explanation for working hard to achieve a position and wage that would allow Williamson to bring his family up in the manner he desired.

What it does not justify is the ripping off of millions of dollars from union members who are merely working to provide for their own families.

The court also heard that Williamson claimed to have been sexually abused as a child by a priest, and at one point during the police investigation into his activities also considered suicide.

Williamson in court with a face that says it all

Williamson in court with a face that says it all

There to take part in the festivities and catch up with some media pals was Marco Bolano.

Some were concerned about Bolano’s mental status because of his alleged fragile state of mind that he claims causes him great stress due to the bullying he received when being stood down from his position as union secretary by a Federal Court Judge and then losing an election that was free of tampering.

Those fears were proven ill-founded as Bolano happily sat through the proceedings.

Others like the moronic shock-jocks who continue to sing Bolano’s praises and were concerned for his finances now that he is out of a job also need not lose sleep.

It seems that the $200,000 plus per annum compensation payments funded by the taxpayer were enough to cover his flight, probably a first class one at that.

It is not just Bolano that has been fronting up at court sessions either.

Some may remember when Craig Thomson was found guilty in Magistrates court in Melbourne that there were a handful of protesters/attention seekers outside court waiting to hurl abuse at Thomson for the TV cameras.

The ringleader of this rent-a-crowd or motley crew, whom some may remember hearing screeching like some sort of demented bogan banshee on the 6pm news was none other than Kylee Brehaut, Marco Bolano’s partner, who can also be seen brawling whilst pregnant at union meetings in video’s I’ve posted in the past. Classy.

There is a level of hypocrisy, or at least double standards when one stands in the street abusing someone accused of taking less than $20K a year from members while their partner sits at home with his feet up collecting compensation of over $200K per annum. Alas Kylee does not see that.

Members who have contacted me claim that Bolano’s name is so far below the level normally associated with mud in Victoria that Brehaut will be campaigning for the position of Secretary of number 1 branch in his place.

I don’t think the members will be fooled by that.

Bolano and Brehaut pose for a pic

Bolano and Brehaut pose for a pic

Another friend of Brehauts and Bolano’s was also there to see the Williamson court appearance.

Kate McClymont was there to report on the events and at the same time give herself credit for her part in the story, despite much of her part not stacking up.

Some may remember McClymonts article on the sorry plight of Brehaut and Bolano from July 2012, or my reaction to her disgraceful cheerleader antics.

McClymont even started that article claiming Bolano had lost his job, he was in fact stood down from his position by a Federal Court Judge.

On March 1st McClymont again gives herself a bit of a pat on the back, stating in her article:

“Strike Force Carnarvon was formed in 2011 after Fairfax Media revealed both men received American Express cards from a major supplier to the union, which may have constituted a secret commission, a jailable offence.”

McClymont has often written about the “Fairfax Investigation” that uncovered these credit cards.

Call it a hunch, or call it logic but I don’t think there was an “investigation” as such. I am of the opinion that McClymont’s investigation went about as far as a conversation with Kathy Jackson.

If there was an investigation why did Williamson’s mistress Cheryl McMillan’s name not surface? She too had one of the cards and I would assume McClymont would have been all over that like rash were it uncovered.

The reason McMillan’s name didn’t come up is because Kathy Jackson would have had no idea of McMillan’s involvement with the cards.

Anyway for those wondering why McClymont is suddenly using the word “may” in relation to the secret commissions it is because they ended up being invoiced services, as my investigations showed. Some of those invoices are on my Jacksonville resource page, and all of them are with Strike Force Carnarvon. My investigations weren’t that complex, all I did was ask the question.

This would be the reason why John and Carron Gilleland from Communigraphix were never charged with anything, despite McClymont’s series of articles portraying them as the villains.

I note with amusement that McClymont in her March 1st article now has the Gilleland’s helping police, stating;

“After the police investigation started, Williamson instructed the suppliers, John and Carron Gilleland, to destroy any American Express card statements. They refused and instead assisted police.”

Perhaps the Gilleland’s then are the real whistleblowers in this sorry saga?

McClymont’s mission however is ongoing.

Not one to let a sleeping dog lie, McClymont can’t resist using Williamson’s guilt as an excuse to have another shot at Craig Thomson.

McClymont, on a mission?

McClymont, on a mission?

Thomson as we know is awaiting sentencing which is due to be handed down on the 18th March.

I don’t think that there has ever been anyone in Australia undergo the level of investigation that Craig Thomson has. This has come from police in two states, journalists, private detectives, Fair Work Commission, political opponents, and the union itself. It has also been an ongoing investigation that has been more intensive and more expensive than the investigation into serial killer Ivan Milat and the backpacker murders.

However in her March 1st article McClymont makes this bold claim;

“The truth of the matter is that he and Craig Thomson, his (Williamson’s) former underling at the union, who is also facing imprisonment, got away with far more than they have been pinged for.
This is not a criticism of police, who have done a remarkable job, it is just a reality. Potential witnesses have died and documents have been destroyed.”

Really Kate?

A reality?

Do you have anything at all to back that claim up? Names, documents, photo’s, video, affidavits, any evidence whatsoever?

Is it now the accepted practice to just make shit up, throw it out in print and hope some of it sticks?

In another recent article of McClymont’s she talks of accountability and how the main stream media is more accountable than those in the “blogosphere”.

I have a page specifically to post up the evidence and documentation to back up my work, something lacking from MSM. If I made a wild claim like the above claim from McClymont I would soon find myself in court defending a defamation suit.

McClymont used to hold the title of “investigative journalist” at Fairfax, that title has now become “senior reporter”. Perhaps it should be updated to say “opinionated columnist”.

Personally I’m not surprised at McClymont’s obvious bias and cheap shots but I do expect a higher standard from Fairfax.

However I find myself once again let down.

Just as well we have McClymont’s much despised “blogosphere” to rely on I guess.

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This week in Federal Parliament something unprecedented occurred.

The Coalition passed a parliamentary motion for an apology.

It may seem odd that the Coalition who we waited for over a decade in vain to apologise to the stolen generation, now all of a sudden want to rush out an apology.

Those of you thinking that this apology may be related to the absolute debacle that Manus Island has turned into since Scott Morrison took over the portfolio, and the only things not being hidden under a veil of secrecy seem to be lies, would be sorely disappointed.

In a move that seems both bizarre and ironic the Coalition who have recently announced a Royal Commission into the Union movement wanted to apologise to some union officials for comments made by an MP in parliament.

The motion was put forward by Christopher Pyne who has some apologising to do himself regarding his GONSKI funding broken promise.

Not that apology....

Not that apology….

The motion was to apologise for the speech made by Craig Thomson on May 21st 2012 in parliament after months of constant harassment from the Coalition to do so. Thomson’s speech can be read in full here.

In particular Pyne wanted to address;

”The former member for Dobell used parliamentary privilege to defame individual members of this House and also individuals outside the Parliament and to mislead the Parliament with a fantastic story that he then did not repeat in court when he had the opportunity to stand by it.”

As an amusing aside, the current Liberal member for Dobell Karen McNamara finds herself embroiled in an ICAC enquiry into non disclosure of election funding.

So those individuals outside the Parliament consist of Michael Williamson, Kathy Jackson and Marco Bolano, all ex union branch secretaries.

While I’m sure Michael Williamson, who has pleaded guilty in court and is currently awaiting sentencing, appreciates the Coalitions support in issuing this apology I don’t think he holds much hope that it will lessen his sentence.

Williamson is awaiting sentencing for several charges, including fraud, related to using members funds for personal reasons in a case that sent shock waves through the union movement.

As I understand part of Williamson’s bail conditions mean is unable to comment on matters related to the HSU and as such can’t send a personal thanks to Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne at this time, but if he ends up in prison maybe he can scrawl something on a piece of toilet paper then.

Michael Williamson - new to Abbott's & Pyne's Xmas card list

Michael Williamson – new to Abbott’s & Pyne’s Xmas card list

Michael Williamson’s former friend and partner in union business Kathy Jackson was apparently defamed by Thomson’s “fantastic” allegations such as;

“Kathy Jackson drives a union paid for Volvo. It is alleged she has child care and gym fees paid for by the union”

Below is the receipt for the Volvo and the letter sent to the dealer enquiring about the close to $5,000 of members funds that went missing during the transaction that Jackson handled. This is not really an allegation, it is a known fact.

Letter From Mylan to Volvo Dealer

As for the child care allegation, Jackson admitted in court that her child care was paid for over four years, despite denying the claims for years in various media interviews.

Thomson also stated;

“Within weeks after I left, her salary almost doubled from the salary that I received, allegedly now being around some $270,000”

This is also true and the HSU has recently announced that they will be taking legal action against Beth Jenson, Jackson’s friend and husband of Jackson’s Barrister. Jenson is the supposedly independent person who recommended to enormous and unprecedented pay rises to her factional members that also included Marco Bolano.

Laugh now, cry later... Jackson and Bolano

Laugh now, cry later… Jackson and Bolano

Marco Bolano also deserves an apology as far as Pyne is concerned.

Bolano is doing it tough at the moment sitting at home on workers compensation payments of over $200,000pa for bullying after a Federal Court Judge stood him down as a union branch secretary.

Thomson alleged that Bolano threatened to set him up with hookers in a heated exchange, and Pyne suggests that as Thomson didn’t bring this up in court it should be apologised for.

As Pyne would be well aware of the court action involving Thomson is not complete as yet, and there is still the possibility of an appeal. But what the hell Christopher, lets not let due legal process get in the way of a bucketload more political smear.

Pyne would also be aware that the defence strategy of proving authorisation that was taken after the Magistrates opening statements claiming this was what the case hinged on didn’t involve Bolano’s alleged threat.

Since publishing so much documentation that support allegations of wrongdoing by Kathy Jackson and her Branch Committee of Management cronies many have asked me “who is protecting Jackson and why?”

If there is some kind of protection racket, and it would appear there is the actions in Parliament this week would seem to suggest who may be running it.

Jackson’s fiancée Michael Lawler who evidence would suggest is deeply embroiled in union matters was after all appointed to his position on Vice President of Fair Work Australia by none other than Tony Abbott.

I would love to be able to praise the Labor Party for pointing these things out but alas I think I saw a jellyfish yesterday that had stolen their spine.

Bill Shorten in particular knows just how slippery Jackson can be after she made wild accusations against him in an affidavit she tried to have entered into evidence in Federal Court in 2012. The judge suppressed it and ruled it not be released however it mysteriously found itself into many hands in the media, although The Financial Review was the only major publication to lower their integrity enough to publish it.

If it is suddenly Parliaments duty to correct the record and apologise for wrongdoing and words that may defame others, I have a suggestion.

Why not start with Peter Slipper?

Peter Slipper has been slandered, defamed, and made a mockery of since James Ashby made his wild allegations via Mal Brough and Christopher Pyne.

Anybody not across this black period of our political history should check out the brilliant investigative reporting on what has become known as Ashbygate on Independent Australia.

When Kathy Jackson and her faction finally face court for the allegations against them, should they be found guilty I know what we will call it.

Coalition sponsored corruption.

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As we wait to hear whether Craig Thomson will appeal the verdict handed down in Magistrates Court last Tuesday, I thought it may be timely to clear a couple of things up.

The articles I have written regarding the HSU saga which is ongoing have been grouped under the title Jacksonville for a reason. That reason is because they primarily relate to the evidence against Kathy Jackson and her factional support network.

Those who claim that the articles published here have been primarily about Craig Thomson are either flat-out lying or are perhaps not so blindly supporters of Kathy Jackson for whatever reason, be it politically or financially motivated support.

Clearly Craig Thomson and his ongoing legal issues are a part of the HSU story and as such I have written many articles on his continuing legal battle.

However my position on Thomson’s case has never been that he is innocent, my position has always been, and continues to be that he deserves a fair trial and that should not involve a trial by media.

Another day another prosecution delay

A fair trial, I’ve heard of those…

As a part of my coverage I have endeavoured to show the aspects of the case that the main stream media have decided you are not worthy of hearing, and much of that would involve Thomson’s defence and reporting on some of the issues and errors with the case against him.

However what I could not ignore was what appeared to be a campaign of completely false claims, selective reporting of facts and blatant lies in the main stream coverage of Thomson’s case.

I thought that the public should be aware of the fiction that was being published as fact and started reporting on the media.

For this I have been called a Thomson cheerleader and flag waver by imbeciles that appear to like being misled and lied to by elements of the mainstream press. Then again, perhaps they are just Jackson cronies and hangers-on or right-wing nutjobs.

However I was not alone in my condemnation of the mainstream, some of you may recall the opening statement of Magistrate Rozencwajg during the trial regarding the shameful coverage of The Australians coverage of events by Pia Ackerman and Ean Higgins.

“Before we commence. At the outset I feel it is necessary to state that the article on the front page of The Australian last Tuesday reporting on the mention held on the 2nd September was factually incorrect in several significant respects. The court certainly made no determination as declared in the blaring headline, in fact I made no determination whatsoever. I have requested the Court Strategic Communications Advisor to take this issue up with the editor of The Australian newspaper and if necessary the Australian Press Council.”

I didn’t hear cries about the Magistrate being a Thomson cheerleader however.

An example misleading and deliberately incorrect coverage would be how long it took for the media to stop reporting that Thomson was facing charges totalling over $500,000, despite that number having dropped to less than $30K.

The continual reporting of Thomson facing 173 charges despite many of them already being dropped by the magistrate.

The reporting of admission of facts by Thomson when it was in fact facts admitted into evidence that were in fact still disputed by Thomson.

One of those in the mainstream quick to blow her own trumpet after Magistrate Rozencwajg gave his verdict was Fairfax reporter Kate McClymont who came out patting herself on the back and condemning what she referred to as the “blogosphere”.

McClymont came out in an interview describing the blogosphere as

“a fascinating beast which doesn’t seem accountable as we are in the main stream. They think it’s all right to defame Kathy Jackson and her husband….all in blind support of Craig Thomson”

For starters Kate, Kathy Jackson does not have a husband but let’s not let facts get in the way.

McClymont is right, we lowly souls in the blogosphere are definitely not accountable in the same way you are in the MSM.

We don’t have a watchdog like you do, one that is primarily funded by the media itself and enjoys a reputation as a toothless tiger.

I can only speak for myself and my accountability on this matter. I have fought off two defamation actions so far and one threatened defamation action regarding my HSU coverage. Unlike those in the mainstream I have had to do this on my own and at my own expense without the benefit of a highly paid legal team in my office and another in my insurance companies offices as those in the MSM enjoy.

I’d actually say that makes us more accountable.

If reporting facts on Kathy Jackson’s spending habits with union funds and reporting Michael Lawler’s direct links to the case can be considered defamation then that would lead one to believe they are doing something wrong or else these facts would not be defaming.

I would also point out that none of the defamation actions have related to any of the documentation involving Jackson’s alleged misuse of union member’s funds, or been anything to do with anything I have written about Craig Thomson.

Jackson and Lawler share a moment after Kathy made a fool of herself in Federal Court

Jackson and Lawler- bad habits and direct links

She went on in the interview to say that she had to threaten a member of the blogosphere legally because it;

“…can be frightening but you can’t let these people get to you”.

Well, I know a quite a bit about the legal threat that McClymont speaks of as Independent Australia and I were the target of these threats, but I didn’t let it get to me.

I was not going to write about McClymont and her husband Graeme Brosnan’s threats that came from their lawyers as it was requested that the action not be referred to publicly. However I’m glad McClymont has opened it up for discussion.

In her interview McClymont told Fran Kelly that a picture of her house with her address had been published online, and insinuated that she had needed legal threats to have it removed. The way that McClymont told it was as if it had been done in some kind of threatening or intimidating fashion.

I was contacted by McClymont and Brosnan’s lawyer regarding the picture and address which I had posted online in an article as a link to document, not as a picture as McClymont portrayed it.

The linked document was actually a real estate document showing ownership of a property owned by McClymont and Brosnan which I posted as evidence of their relationship which was not widely known at the time. Their lawyer sought the removal of the address, and as a gesture of good will I actually removed the entire document immediately, although McClymont neglected to mention that in her interview.

As it turned out their chief concern seemed to be that I had pointed out that McClymont was married to a private investigator and author.

The lawyer was also insistent that the private investigator and investigative reporter didn’t compare notes and worked completely separately, or as their lawyer put it they

“… each conduct their professional endeavours completely professionally and appropriately, and independently of one another.”

Independently of one another? Like when they edited a book together? Or perhaps Ms Alice Kate McClymont is a relative?

Still I am a frightening figure as McClymont tells it, although I’m not exactly sure why.

She didn’t seem to think so when she shouted me morning tea at Fairfax’s offices when we sat down and discussed the HSU case together.

Could it be because she feels threatened by the blogosphere as she calls it?

It could be, we do enjoy a growing audience whilst those in the printed media suffer a declining readership. I won’t go so far as to call the printed media the Dead Zone, but it is certainly the Dying Zone.

Maybe it is because Jackson’s work colleagues chose to trust me to report on the documentation and not send it to her?

She certainly has been loathe to report anything negative about Jackson, Lawler, or Bolono.

However what made me really question the motives of McClymont was when a couple of blokes from downtown Bathurst decided to raise money for Thomson’s legal battle in order that he be able to afford a decent defence.

McClymont came out swinging seemingly adamant that Thomson not be able to afford that decent defence. McClymont was so fired up she showed no regard for facts stating that Thomson should get Legal Aid to defend him knowing full well that on his salary this would not be possible. She then went on to lie and state that those raising the funds were ALP members, it turns out neither had ever been members of the ALP.

No other journalist took such a stand against this which made me wonder why McClymont seemed to have such a vendetta against Thomson, surely a fair trial is in everyone’s best interests including the media.

Kate & Craig - No love lost there...

Kate & Craig – No love lost there…

It seemed to me that McClymont, who was supposed to be an unbiased journalist was acting and talking more like a right-wing columnist such as Andrew Bolt or Piers Ackerman, whose daughter Pia was the court reporter writing the articles that were being slammed by the Magistrate in Thomson’s trial for “gross inaccuracies”.

I decided to look back at some of McClymont’s articles on the HSU saga and was shocked to find some major inaccuracies. Claims of secret commissions that turned out to be invoiced services, and talk of overcharges what McClymont refers to as a newsletter that turned out to be a 48 page colour magazine. Not only do her claims regarding this magazine that was direct mailed to roughly 60,000 members not make sense mathematically, her claim of 10 editions conflicts with the Temby report’s claim of 11 editions.

I have praised McClymont in the past for some of her coverage and investigations into Michael Williamson.

Her relentless pursuit of Williamson is understandable, and her persistent attacks on Thomson although seeming to be personally motivated are also understandable.

What is not understandable however is how someone who has seen the documentation on Jackson and writes for a paper that boldly claims “Independent Always” has chosen to ignore the allegations against her which dwarf claims against Thomson.

But enough about Kate, what never ceases to amaze me is the scale of the public crucifixion of Craig Thomson when compared with others involved in the case.

Bear this in mind, Craig Thomson is due to be sentenced in just under a month for charges that now total less than $20,000. This total includes the cash withdrawals from union funds.

His accuser Kathy Jackson is praised by right-wing press as some sort of hero despite questions being raised over her cash withdrawals of hundreds of thousands of dollars of union funds amongst a mountain of other allegations

In the Michael Williamson case, Williamson’s lover Cheryl McMillan had not been spoken of lately. Sources report that McMillan has been given immunity from criminal prosecution despite being a hostile witness and personally collecting $1.2Million in cash payments in paper bags in a car park, apparently pocketing $600,000 herself for her troubles. She is however open to civil claims which the union look forward to starting.

Is it just me or do the scales of justice seem a little unbalanced?

To me this is the real “affront to common sense“.

More on this soon.

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Well, there you have it, the end of the road.

Today in Melbourne Magistrates Court the case against Craig Thomson finally came to a dramatic close.

For years now we have seen and heard the trial by media and today we saw the result of a trial by court.

Despite the Magistrate dropping 13 of the charges against Thomson relating to in-house movies, Magistrate Rozencwajg today found charges Thomson guilty of obtaining a financial advantage by the use of his union credit card and cash withdrawals from union accounts by saying the charges against him were proven.

Thomson who has always maintained his innocence had decided to take the path of using authorisation as his defence, this he saw as the fastest and cheapest way of defending himself.

This may have been a huge mistake as it turns out.

Whilst authorisation for Thomson’s spending was never proven one way or the other, Magistrate Rozencwajg made the decision that much of Thomson’s spending did not pass the common sense test.

Magistrate broke the charges down into six categories

  1. Use of Sex Workers
  2. Cash withdrawals
  3. In house video usage
  4. Purchase of cigarettes and firewood
  5. Spousal travel
  6. Post-resignation use of HSU Credit Card

Aside from category 3 the Magistrate found all of the charges proven.

The Magistrate when delivering his verdict spoke of “grey areas” between what were personal and what were legitimate business expenses which is why 13 of the charges were dropped as they related to travel whilst on business, these were the charges in category 3 that related to in-house movies.

However the Magistrate was blunt about the use of union funds for escort services calling any question of authorisation

“…an affront to common sense”

Magistrate Rozencwajg went further to say that he believed that Thomson was fully aware of what he was doing and that it was dishonest.

Thomson found guilty

Thomson found guilty

Magistrate Rozencwajg singled out cash withdrawals made by Thomson out for special mention in today’s proceedings in words that will surely make Jackson weak at the knees.

Magistrate Rozencwajg stated that any cash withdrawal or expenditure at all from a union account was inappropriate and illegitamate, no matter what the circumstances.

Some of you will remember when Jackson, the prosecution’s key witness and self-proclaimed whistle-blower declared under oath to spending cash withdrawals that dwarf Thomson’s from union accounts and comes off sounding like Imelda Marcos at a shoe sale.

Cash withdrawals Jackson made from union accounts exceeded $100,000 per annum, one year exceeding $200,000 according to her sworn testimony.

So it turns out the star witness and Liberal Party puppet Kathy Jackson may be facing some serious questions regarding those withdrawals, as will the BCOM who she uses as her scapegoats. Despite calling herself a whistle-blower she has clearly become an expert in blowing something, and that appears to be her own trumpet, something she may now come to regret as police attention may now fall upon her.

Next in line?

Next in line?

Upon news of the verdict Acting HSU National President Chris Brown released a media statement saying that he was pleased with today’s decision in court.

Brown stated:

“it has been a long six years since the fraud was first uncovered with three major investigation leading to today’s verdict. It is a significant day for the Union and will allow us to start to put these unfortunate affairs behind us”.

Brown also went on to state that the union would now be pursuing civil action against Thomson to seek to recover any of the members funds that have been used for personal business rather than union business, money Brown terms as stolen.

Brown is right, any money that has been used outside union guidelines should be returned to the members. That would include funds that can be retrieved from Craig Thomson, Michael Williamson, and of course Kathy Jackson.

After all a union is all about the members.

So where to now?

Craig Thomson has been found guilty is up to facing five years imprisonment and now awaits sentencing on the 18th March. He also waits for a civil case against him to be launched by the HSU which will likely bankrupt him.

Thomson’s bail conditions have also changed with the Magistrate imposing a “Static Residential Condition” meaning he can’t travel.

Chris Brown faces the prospect of retrieving funds and rebuilding his unions reputation amongst not only the public, but also the members.

Kathy Jackson and her BCOM buddies face more investigations, a mountain of evidence, and an upcoming Royal Commission.

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As I predicted before the election last year the political witch-hunt that is the Royal Commission into unions has been announced by the Abbott government.

Many of you may be surprised to hear that whilst I believe that the Royal Commission is being carried out for the wrong reasons, those being political reasons, I am quite happy to see the Commission happen.

Many of you will probably be wondering why I support the Royal Commission as no doubt it will do some within the Labor Party and union movement considerable damage.

For starters any corruption that is weeded out by the Commission is something I will be glad to see exposed and stopped. Anybody involving themselves in corrupt practices is only doing the union movement and the Labor Party harm and we are best off rid of them.

I am also a firm believer in the much-needed and promised but never delivered reform of the Labor Party. The Royal Commission could be a catalyst for change within the Party and any change that takes the bulk of the Party’s power away from a few select unions and puts in back in the hands of rank and file members is a good thing in my mind.

I am also heartened to see that the HSU is one of the unions that will come under the scrutiny of the Royal Commission and all of the evidence I have made public will certainly be available to the Commission.

As we know Michael Williamson has had his time in court and now faces prison.

Craig Thomson too has had his time in court and is due back on the 18th February to hear the verdict of the Magistrate, although I’m sure the trial by media will continue on regardless of the outcome.

Some people however have thus far evaded court and are taking way too long to investigate.

With that in mind the two people I am really looking forward to seeing grilled by the Royal Commission are Kathy Jackson and her partner Michael Lawler.

Kathy Jackson behind an appropriate sign. The bloke on the sign even looks a bit like Jeff Jackson

Kathy Jackson behind an appropriate sign. The bloke on the sign even looks a bit like Jeff Jackson

Some of the things I hope to see addressed by the Commission are listed below:

• Why Michael Lawler was not asked to step aside from his post as Vice President as Fair Work Australia (FWA) as it investigated his partners union.

• Why the parameters of the FWA investigation seemed designed to eliminate any looking into Lawler’s partner Kathy Jackson’s branch during the time she was the Secretary.

• Why Michael Lawler is alleged to have contacted union staff and made complaints to police about union staff, and why this is not considered a conflict of interest given his position.

• Why Michael Lawler’s two teenage sons were employed by Kathy Jackson’s branch of the union despite living interstate.

• Why there were allegedly repeated attempts made by a computer with a client name michael-lawlers to access the HSU’s network using Kathy Jackson’s login details.

• Why Michael Lawler allegedly refused to co-operate with the independent investigation conducted by KPMG

• Why Kathy Jacksons child care was paid for by the members for over four years according to her sworn court testimony.

• If Kathy Jacksons’s child care payments were legitimate why are some of the cheque requisitions made out for staff benefits and strangely staff uniform payments considering the staff at the child care centre do not have uniforms.

• During the FWA investigation why was evidence delivered to investigator Terry Nassios by hand by Kathy Jackson in boxes that had allegedly been tampered with.

Jackson and Lawler share a moment after Kathy made a fool of herself in Federal Court

Jackson and Lawler share a moment after Kathy made a fool of herself in Federal Court

• Why did companies such as Koukouvaos Pty Ltd and Neranto #10 Pty Ltd which were owned by Kathy and Jeff Jackson invoice for so much consultation work when they were both HSU Secretaries

• Why did Ian Temby refuse to look at evidence against Kathy Jackson when he was compiling the Temby report stating that unless it related to Michael Williamson there is nothing he can do. This would indicate someone controlling where the investigation led, and possible protection of other parties.

• The circumstances that led to the ridiculous contract signed by Kathy Jackson and Michael Williamson for Rob Elliott’s termination that saw him paid for doing nothing for 10 years.

• Why union phone records indicate Kathy Jackson making numerous phone calls to the offices of disgraced former Liberal NSW Finance Minister Greg Pearce and current Liberal Employment Minster Eric Abetz.

• Why the exorbitant spending on union credit cards held by Kathy Jackson and Jeff Jackson.

• Why was there a payment listed as to Wai Quen for $22,000 despite her not working for the union and living overseas at the time, a payment that Wai Quen denies receiving.

• Why the roughly $5,000 difference between the Kathy Jacksons claim for the cost of her union paid for Volvo and the invoice from the dealer.

• Why Kathy Jackson paid herself a $63,000 honorarium payment

• Why there were so many blank cheques bearing Kathy Jackson’s signature left in the HSU Branch 3 Office

Nothing dodgy here...

Nothing dodgy here…

There are many more queries than that, but these would make a fine start.

The other thing I will enjoy watching is all of those trustee’s and BCOM members of Kathy Jackson’s branch on the witness stand trying to explain why they signed off on Jacksons immense spending, such as the $100,000 plus per annum in cash withdrawals she testified to in court.

The BCOM and trustees are made up of these people amongst others;

Kate Wilkinson
Jenny Dunlop
Kathryn Whitfield
Rueben Dixon
Olga Gountras
Chris Hill
Mark Hindson
Lisa Magnusson
Adriana Vespucci
Kristine Olaris
Lia Augoustakis
Jennifer Croll

Another I’m looking forward to seeing on the stand is Jackson’s financial controller Jane Holt whose winery Berry’s Bridge Winery seemed to sell a lot of wine to Kathy’s union branch.

These are the people that HSU Branch 3 members hold responsible for almost sending their union bankrupt, and the members deserve answers.

These are just some of the things to look forward to in a Royal Commission.

The current Labor Party line that the matter of allegations of union corruption would be better looked after by the Australian Crime Commission don’t sit well with me.

After all the former CEO of the Australian Crime Commission is John Lawler, Michael Lawler’s brother and Kathy Jackson’s apparent future brother-in-law.

I understand the fear, suspicion and trepidation regarding a Royal Commission of this nature, but for the sake of seeing these issues addressed I say….

Bring it on.

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Barry Bunnings

Those who were waiting for some kind of grand finale or fireworks display in Magistrates Court on Thursday after lunch in the Craig Thomson trial, were not unlike those yelling for an encore at a Justin Bieber concert.

Setting themselves up for disappointment.

Despite a line up of Kathy Jackson and the head of the Victorian Police investigation John Tyquin the afternoon session was a bit of a fizzer by all accounts.

Kathy Jackson was the key prosecution witness for the day and despite saying that she thought there were things that seemed odd in Thomson’s financial records she really was not a good witness for the prosecution, quite the opposite in fact.

She seemed to be a far better witness for the defence.

As I wrote about on Thursday, Jackson confirmed in court that she made hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash withdrawals from union members funds whilst Secretary for BBQ’s and the like, all apparently with the blessing of her ever faithful BCOM and Trustee’s.

If I was one of the BCOM or trustee’s responsible for approving Jacksons spending, I’d be bracing to blow the whistle or grab my passport and run.

The sheer amount and volume of cash withdrawals from Jackson make those Craig Thomson is facing charges look like milk money.

Jackson was also kind enough to explain the $22,000 trip to Mt Hotham that the union members footed the bill for whilst on the witness stand. The amounts involved are shown on the GST reporting statement to the Tax Office below.

2005 BAS GST reporting

Apparently it was not a private holiday it was a union staff event. Something that was to benefit the staff of her branch, Marco Bolano’s branch, as well as another branch. Some kind of bonding or training type event I gather.

If this was indeed the case, I wonder if those from her BCOM approving all the spending also attended the trip. I am also left wondering, if it was for training purposes what the point of being at a snow field is? Was she just looking for the most expensive location possible?

Anyway, those members wondering about their funds being squandered on a ski trip junket need not fear, the staff all benefitted greatly I’m sure.

So immense was the staff benefit in fact, that the event was not even given the tiniest of mentions in the Unions Health Professional magazine/newsletter  for the entire year 2005 when the event occurred or indeed 2006.

Hmmm

photo

Jackson also brought a friend along with her for her court appearance.

It was a sight that many in the court found quite amusing, Kathy Jackson was leading David Rofe QC around by the hand as if he was some kind of blind invalid, something he most certainly is not.

Although Rofe QC claimed to be there as a friend, I don’t think he is someone Jackson usually goes to the pub with or holidays with or even has chats with on the phone regularly, although I could be wrong. However I’d go so far as to hazard a guess that perhaps he was there to ensure Jackson did not incriminate herself on the stand, or perhaps even to ensure that the Lawler family name was not brought into the matter, but again that is just a guess.

Either way proceedings had to be stopped twice when his mobile phone rang, that’s right twice. He didn’t turn it off after the first time.

Still what was probably the most important thing that Jackson swore under oath to was that a credit card was a part of Thomson’s salary package.

This is odd indeed as it completely supports Thomson’s entire defence, as how can anybody require authorisation to spend their salary how they see fit?

Some have suggested that this is a complete backflip from her earlier statements involving claims of improper spending, and this may indeed may be the case, however I am of the opinion that this admission is a tactic to set up a defence for her own spending which is coming under increased scrutiny and she will perhaps one day find herself in court explaining.

The blogospheres got me down

The blogosphere’s got me down

So where to now for the trial?

This is the end of the witnesses, any smoking gun that was to have existed has been presented by now in either a written statement or on the witness stand.

On Tuesday final submissions will be made by both the prosecution and the defence teams and after that we will wait for the Magistrate to come back with a decision of guilty or not guilty.

No matter which way Magistrate Rozencwajg decides there will still be questions in the minds of most. These are the questions as to whether Thomson visited brothels or used escort services.

On this matter the opinions seem to differ just as much as the evidence.

However what this case comes down to and will eventually be decided upon is authorisation, and did Thomson have the authority to use his credit cards as he wished.

As much as the media may like to portray that the case is all about brothels and hookers, that is not the case.

Still, the media and the prosecution seem to have decided to have an each-way bet, if they can’t destroy Thomson in court then they will ruin his life via the headlines.

Going by the sworn testimony of the witnesses, the question of authority seems to be shady to say the least, with the prosecution’s star witness even going so far as to say it was part of his salary package.

The case against Craig Thomson, as much as the shock-jocks might like to think so is nothing at all like the case against Michael Williamson, not even remotely despite them often being referred to together. His case is also minor in comparison to the investigation into Kathy Jackson

Williamson and Jackson - Close links

Williamson and Jackson – Close links

Thomson’s entire case equates to less than $6,000 of questioned spending per year during the five years he was Union Secretary.

By comparison in the case against Michael Williamson the total figure exceeds $20 Million so far.

The investigation into Kathy Jacksons time running Thomson’s former branch are looking at allegations of improper spending that are measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Michael Williamson had other companies set up such as CANME that invoiced the union for services that were questionable.

Kathy Jackson you may recall also had a similar setup with companies such as Neranto #10 Pty Ltd and Koukouvaos Pty Ltd.

Neranto #10 cheque requisitions

Neranto #10 cheque remittances

Koukouvaos Consulting Payments

Craig Thomson had nothing of the sort.

Michael Williamson had the advice of expensive legal teams and I’m sure many contacts within the political and legal world to rely on for support.

Kathy Jackson had the support of Michael Lawler, Vice President of the organisation that investigated Thomson FWA, to lean on. She also had the support of all of her new-found friends within the Liberal Party such as Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, and of course Peter Reith. As mentioned earlier she even took a QC along while she appeared as a witness.

Ah, all the jitters of a first date...

Ah, all the jitters of a first date…

By contrast, Thomson has been almost bankrupted and has even been forced to partially rely on the financial support of the public to mount a decent defence, something the media clearly didn’t want to see him have given their reaction.

What has also become apparent during the Thomson trial is that the partnership between Jackson and Williamson was closer than Jackson would like us all to believe. In fact the measures that were put in place by Thomson to increase the levels of financial accountability of union secretaries made him the enemy of both Williamson and Jackson.

Thomson arrives at court last year with his support

Thomson arrives at court last year with his support

What I have attempted to do in my writing is not to prove Thomson innocent as many have mistakenly assumed. I have always felt my role is to serve those who seek to know all of the facts involved in the case, not just the ones that suit the main stream media agenda.

Call me naive, but I am just one of those nostalgic old souls that still believes in a fair trial.

Along the way I have highlighted misreporting, half-truths, and blatant lies within the mainstream media. I have also highlighted evidence that has been ignored and reported on witness statements and testimony the main stream don’t want us to hear about.

Overall I suppose I have done my best to provide a little balance to what has become a trial by media, something that even those participating in claim to be against.

If indeed Thomson has defrauded the union members, I will be the first to say he should be held to account and the members retrieve their money.

I also strongly believe that allegations against Kathy Jackson need to be scrutinised as intently as those against Williamson and Thomson and I will continue to pursue this matter, as the long-suffering union members deserve nothing less.

So there you have it, it’s almost over for Thomson.

Let’s hope that once this is over that our main stream journalists can lift their game and start reporting from the street, not the gutter.

It would make a pleasant change.

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This week as the Craig Thomson trial draws closer to finalizing, the lesson to be learnt is that there are serious flaws in the way our media report important events.

While Independent Australia has someone who assumes the whole days events may be worth reporting on and stays in court to relay it all, the vast majority of the mainstream press seem to be off at the café, the pub, or gone for a round of golf by lunch.

How is this in any way in the interests of their readership?

It is no wonder the Magistrate has been so critical of particularly The Australian’s coverage of the court proceedings in the past.

The testimony of former Sydney brothel owner Peter Lazaris was widely reported by all of the mainstream press like it was the major event of the day.

What wasn’t reported is that in a full day in court Mr Lazaris testimony lasted less than ten minutes, nor that he was asked to step down from the witness stand by Magistrate Rozencwajg.

Mr Lazaris leaves the set of Miami Vice

Mr Lazaris leaves the set of Miami Vice

The reason he was asked to step down is that his testimony was for the most part irrelevant to the case as it had no link to Craig Thomson, and most of what he was saying was just reading aloud on the stand, with Magistrate Rozencwajg explaining

“I can read just as well as he can”

That was not reported anywhere that I saw.

My humble opinion and I am not an expert in the area, is that brothels advertise, promote and promise discretion. I would not consider going on a witness stand in Magistrates court before a salivating press pack discreet, but that is just me.

Given this it would lead me to assume one of two things, either Mr Lazaris has no integrity, or alternatively that Thomson was never a client. There was certainly nothing that Mr Lazaris presented that gave any confirmation that Thomson was indeed a customer, only excuses as to why he could not offer evidence of what Thomson claims never occurred.

As we have seen from Umberto Ledfooti’s court coverage on Independent Australia there has been a long list of witnesses that have appeared that have painted a clear picture that there were no official guidelines around credit card usage within the union, with one of those witnesses being Jeff Jackson who’s alleged improper spending on a union credit card vastly exceeds that of Thomson.

There has been testimony from Belinda Ord that the documentation  that Kathy Jackson has claimed was destroyed by Thomson was in fact under a desk in Jacksons office. These documents included financial details, credit card details and copies of signatures and drivers license details, everything that one would require to set someone up.

This too was ignored by the mainstream

Today it was time for Kathy Jackson to finally take the stand.

Jackson is in the box seat today

Jackson is in the box seat today

Jackson as you are probably all aware is the self-proclaimed whistleblower whose allegations started the entire circus that we have witnessed for the past few years.

Jackson as you are also likely aware is the fiancée of Michael Lawler who is the Vice President of Fair Work Commission (formerly FWA) whose investigations based on the evidence that was hand delivered by Jackson seemed to target Thomson. Kathy Jackson’s branch during her time as secretary was conveniently excluded from the investigation.

She is also the one who was in partnership with Michael Williamson, who employed her, to form the ill-fated HSU East. So strong her relationship with Williamson was before she betrayed him that she even purchased his wife Julie a $3,000 pair of earrings as a gift. Not bad on a union salary…

Kathy Jacksons Bulgari Earring Purchase

In her testimony before lunch Jackson often referred to what she called information from the “blogosphere”. Jackson has clearly been infuriated by the fact that her own actions have brought her under police scrutiny and documentation that has exposed her lies has been made public.

Today Jackson confirmed that Craig Thomson’s salary package included a salary, a car, a mobile phone for personal and business use and a credit card. A credit card as part of a salary package?

If this is the case then it would suggest he can spend on that card however he likes surely, as no employer can tell you how to spend your own salary.

Jackson also confirmed before lunch that the child care payments for her children were made well beyond her return from maternity leave by around four years. This is the same child care that she told Chris Uhlman when interviewed on the ABC’s 7 30 was not paid for out of union funds.

Too bad the “blogosphere” exposed that lie I guess…

Another alarming admission from Jackson is that she spent over $100,000 per year of union funds by withdrawing cash.

That is a lot of cash to spend, certainly far more than Thomson’s withdrawals which now find him facing charges in court.

When queried about her $22,000 ski trip to Mt Hotham in 2005 shown on the branches GST reporting document below, Jackson claimed she was attending a union conference there.

2005 BAS GST reporting

I guess it was lucky it was in the middle of ski season and that her and Jeff are both keen skiers.

The circus continues after lunch…

More tomorrow.

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Yesterday hidden behind a paywall that is about as effective as many of its journalists and columnists was an article in The Australian.

The article was by someone whose journalistic integrity I will allow you to judge by your own standards, or maybe even his own.

The journalist I speak of is News Ltd’s Ean Higgins and in his article which I will dissect for us today he decides to take a couple of cheap potshots at myself and David Donovan, the editor of Independent Australia.

The background to this article is that Ean Higgins has not liked the way that both myself and Independent Australia have been publishing articles that correct the factual errors in The Australian’s coverage of the Craig Thomson case, coverage that is primarily written by Higgins and Pia Akerman, the daughter of Piers Akerman.

An article that I wrote on September 12th which exposed some of the many wild distortions of fact and complete fabrication of what the writers, Akerman and Higgins describe as fact was particularly distressing for Higgins.

In one part of the original article, I took the word of someone who was in attendance in court that morning who asserted that the authors of the article had been referred by the Magistrate for possible contempt of court charges.

Unfortunately, my source was incorrect as it turned out, so I corrected the record and apologised, as I feel that is always the appropriate response on the rare occasion we make a mistake on this matter.

The reason I wrote the article originally however was due to the Magistrate condemning the Australians coverage of the previous court mention in the Craig Thomson case.

Ironically had the Australian not printed so many factual errors that were  highly prejudicial and seemingly designed to distort the truth I would have had no need to publish my article correcting the record in the first place.

I felt the need to correct the record as The Australian seems to have an aversion to doing so. So far the repeated false claims in articles by Akerman and Higgins have yet to be corrected and as yet Thomson is yet to receive an apology for the prejudicial nature of the misreporting on his case.

So let’s have a look at some of what Higgins states in his article that is meant to show how he gets his facts right because he knows his “craft” and is not an “amateur”

Higgins starts of with this nugget of wisdom;

“THEY have never or rarely earned their living from the craft of mainstream journalism…”

 

For starters never and rarely are opposites, completely different concepts altogether. The fact that neither David nor I write for main stream media, or a fringe dwelling rag such as The Australian that despite being far from main stream would like to think of itself that way to imply relevance is completely irrelevant to the “craft” of journalism as I’m sure many a freelancer will attest to.

 Higgins then delves into the educational background of David Donovan, Independent Australia’s editor, and according to Higgins a “Self appointed tsar of citizen journalism”, a strange term thought up by Higgins that to me demonstrates the state of mind of the man as he writes.

What he fails to recognise is that David Donovan does in fact have a degree in journalism, but Higgins won’t let that little nugget of information get in the way of a good yarn.

Higgins then goes on to say;

“On these citizen journalism credentials, Donovan has attracted advertisers to Independent Australia, including ANZ, Shell, Connect2Solar, AON Insurance, Malaysia Airlines and the Victorian Department of Human Services, to name just a few.”

The citizen journalism credentials such as a degree in journalism and a successful growing publication has attracted some advertisers to Independent Australia certainly, however none of those above. What Higgins is referring to advertising from AdChoice which is a Google service. It would appear that clicking on the link displayed on the advert to discover this was too much research for Higgins to be bothered doing.

When it comes to who News Ltd endorses as advertisers I can only judge on The Daily Telegraph as I like the overwhelmingly vast majority of Australians don’t buy The Australian. Judging from the back pages of the Telegraph I’d say that News Ltd journalists are paid with the advertising dollars from prostitution, brothels, sex phone lines and pornographic video chat services.

A page from the Daily Telegraph

A page from the Daily Telegraph

Higgins then decides to have a cheap shot at me as an unsuccessful ALP candidate because I didn’t win in the last state election when I ran in the states safest Liberal seat, something I never expected to win in a million years, but anyway…

Maybe we should refer to Higgins as a failed Walkley’s entrant?

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

After David Donovan spoke to Ean Higgins regarding what I had been mistakenly told about being referred for possible contempt of court charges Higgins tells his readers his reaction;

“I told Donovan it was the first I had heard of it and said I would check with Akerman, who had been at the court hearing in question. Akerman said that while the magistrate, Charlie Rozencwajg, had complained among other things about a headline, there had been no mention of any referral for contempt of court.”

Whilst it is now clear that there was no referral for possible contempt of court charges there was indeed a referral to the courts Strategic Communications Advisor and possibly the Australian Press Council.

Let’s have a look at what was actually said by Magistrate Rozencwajg in open court;

“Before we commence. At the outset I feel it is necessary to state that the article on the front page of The Australian last Tuesday reporting on the mention held on the 2nd September was factually incorrect in several significant respects. The court certainly made no determination as declared in the blaring headline, in fact I made no determination whatsoever. I have requested the Court Strategic Communications Advisor to take this issue up with the editor of The Australian newspaper and if necessary the Australian Press Council.”

 

Magistrate Rozencwajg also described Higgins and Akermans September 3 distortion of the truth in other ways such as;

 

“Completely at odds with the facts”

“Many factual errors throughout the article”

“Not limited to the headline”

 

I guess Ackerman must have missed all of that.

Higgins then goes on to talk about an email he sent myself and David and has selectively quoted from. Higgins asked for his complete and utterly arrogant email not to be published, a request that we have respected.

Higgins puts it like this in his article;

 

“While Donovan and Wicks chose not to check the facts, I did, and then sent emails to Donovan and Wicks. My email to Donovan read in part:

“1/ Neither Pia nor I, nor the editor, has been informed of any possible referral regarding contempt of court.

2/ Pia, who was in the courtroom, did not hear a mention from the magistrate about contempt of court.

3/ A spokeswoman for the magistrate has said in writing that your allegation is not correct.

4/ The source to whom you attribute this false allegation, Greg James QC, has not backed it up.”

What I did in fact do was to check facts, as I always do.

Again the reason for my post was Higgins and Ackerman’s article full of falsehoods according to the Magistrate.

For Higgins to assert that he checked his facts would therefore lead one to the impression that he must have deliberately set about to publish falsehoods given there were so many errors in his article. If Higgins had indeed checked his facts, then the claims he made in his article wouldn’t have been there unless put there to intentionally deceive readers.

It is to be noted that Independent Australia sought the court recording in order to get an accurate portrayal of what occurred. It is also to be noted that Higgins has relied on the word of one person in the courtroom, the exact same thing he criticises us for doing. Even worse the person upon whom he was relying was Pia Akerman whose shoddy reporting, distorted facts, and utter fabrications of what was occurring in court resulted in the Magistrates above condemnation and was the reason I wrote the article correcting it in the first place.

In regards to the points he numbers in his email above, number one is accepted with a correction and apology made, and number two we have just covered off.

Number three and four though I have not addressed as yet but will now. A court media spokeswoman, not a spokeswoman for the Magistrate said she was unaware of a referral and suggested that a recording was the way to be certain, so we ordered the recording as was appropriate.

Greg James QC did in fact back up his incorrect observation on more than one occasion.

Ean Higgins - Questionable reporting

Ean Higgins – Before pointing out sawdust in our eyes, try to remove the log from your own

Higgins then turns back to criticising myself and Independent Australia;

“Donovan and Wicks broke the rules of basic journalism: check your facts before publishing, don’t just rely on what someone said they might have heard, act promptly when someone points out you may be wrong”

Good advice from someone who clearly doesn’t appear to follow his own “rules of basic journalism”

As Magistrate Rozencwajg so eloquently pointed out, Ean Higgins published an article that was “completely at odds with the facts”. The fact that Higgins did not attend the court mention proceeding meant that he was relying on what Akerman said she might have heard, and now both myself and the Magistrate involved in the case have pointed out that Higgins is wrong “throughout the article” in areas “not limited to the headline”. These errors were printed two months ago and have yet to be corrected or apologised for. Not what I’d describe as prompt.

That is all of his own “basic rules” broken.

Higgins then speaks of a vendetta against News Ltd and particularly The Australian.

I do indeed have a vendetta about incorrect reporting of events which are often in my view deliberate and written for political motives. If Higgins feels the Australian has been particularly targeted then I guess that is an indication of how often they get it wrong.

However as my readers know I have attacked Fairfax on this matter also many times.

Higgins near the finish of his article claims this before patting himself on the back for his many inaccuracies he describes as professionalism.

“But there’s a difference between opinion and comment on the one hand, and accurate, objective news reporting…”

Absolutely right there Ean, I completely agree.

If you want opinion and comment you can pay through the nose for it and purchase The Australian. The articles I have discussed here have been referred to by a Magistrate as “completely at odd with the facts” and were clearly setting out to attack rather than report, not the way I view “accurate and objective”.

Alternatively you are more than welcome to read Independent Australia or Wixxyleaks, where we research our facts, seek both sides of a story, and when a correction is needed we do it promptly and don’t try and hide it in fine print on a back page.

The public do indeed have a choice, they can pour out their hard-earned money into the pockets of Murdoch for a publication that loses money hand over fist and is losing readers at the rate of knots, or access their news online free at places like Independent Australia whose readership is growing at a rate only surpassed by the rate the Australian is losing readers.

Mr Higgins, it would appear that both the facts and time are on our side.

Firmly.

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On Wednesday we saw the mainstream media embrace the tactics of the prosecution in the criminal trial of Craig Thomson and seek to further trash Thomson’s name and reputation.

In what is often described as “Trash” or “Gutter Journalism” we saw pictures of prostitutes and brothel interiors and ridiculous tales of alias names and prostitutes with fake names.

What did any of this prove? Nothing

What relevance did it have to the case? None

The charges that relate to allegations of brothels have been previously investigated in NSW by the fraud squad and found to be deficient of evidence and reliant on the word of shady witnesses at best. It was determined by NSW Police that there was no criminality in these matters, including fraud. Not only this but the charges have been dismissed by the court in Victoria this week and as yet the prosecution has still yet to appeal the Magistrates decision on the dismissed charges despite being allowed time to do it.

These wild accusations were made in court by a desperate prosecution who knew that any evidence on these matters was not going to be contested as there are no charges relating to them.

Once again the prosecution has used the Magistrates Court as a stage in which to broadcast their smear campaign from in order to feed the trial by media.

I’m not going to go into these matters because they are irrelevant and any loose evidence remains untested except in NSW were the matter was dropped. Not only that, frankly I won’t explore these accusations  because I have integrity.

Yesterday it was HSU National President Chris Brown’s turn on the witness stand as evidence started to be heard in the case.

Chris Brown was the prosecution’s key witness and was the man prosecution were relying on to show that Thomson had broken the rules and did not have the authority to use his union credit card in the manner that the prosecution allege he did.

However this is not what came out.

In fact everything that Brown stated seemed to back Thomson’s defence.

The bulk of the money in question in Thomson’s charges is the amount allegedly spent on spousal travel. Brown testified that he thought that some spousal travel was entirely appropriate and there was nothing in the rules that prevented it.

One of the most important things that came out was that there was no written policy in regards to the spending of union funds at the time.

Not only that but after concerns had been raised regarding union spending and accountability it was stated that Thomson was a key player in determining how union funds could be used, and was even key in setting up the unions finance committee.

Thomson would be hoping that there are more prosecution witnesses like that

Thomson would be hoping that there are more prosecution witnesses like that

This is in stark contrast to the reckless spender he is being portrayed as in the main stream press.

So while Craig Thomson helped set up a finance committee, and set guidelines so that members funds could not be recklessly spent, his principle accuser Kathy Jackson has yet to explain her spending of over $22,000 on a ski holiday in just one month. In fact her credit card expenditure dwarfs that of Thomson.

Assorted Financial Statements HSU Branch 3

HSU 3 Branch BAS July-Sept 2005 expenses breakdown

Speaking of Thomson’s accuser Kathy Jackson, Chris Brown also stated under oath that Kathy Jackson was in partnership with Michael Williamson and that Jackson and Williamson were working together to prevent financial audits from taking place. Thomson was not part of the Williamson/Jackson alliance and was therefore a factional outcast according to Chris Brown, and seemingly a threat to their spending habits.

Williamson and Jackson - Partners and allies

Williamson and Jackson – Partners and allies

So it would seem that the key prosecution witness turned out to be a boost for the defence, and if that was prosecution’s key witness it’s all downhill for them from here.

If I were a Victorian taxpayer I’d be more than a bit peeved that my money was being wasted on this type of case by the DPP.

It is also interesting to note that when Thomson left the court there was no press pack waiting, none at all. No press conference, no camera’s in his face or reporters screaming questions, nothing but empty space.

When the prosecution were there to put the boot in without the need for proof in their opening statement the media were all over it. Yet as soon as evidence is introduced and things start looking good for Thomson there is no media to be found.

A trial by media will only ever promote one side of the argument.

Yesterday Magistrate Rozencwajg adjourned the case.

The trial will resume on the 20th January where it will continue until completion.

In other related news I also wanted to make my readers aware of a development on my end.

On Wednesday both Independent Australia and I received a letter from Ric Lewis of Colquhoun Murphy Lawyers acting for Michael Lawler.

This is the legal firm that represents the Liberal Pollster and strategist with a seeming fascination with 70’s Filipino porn, Mark Textor, as well as having performed legal work for Peter Costello and Tony Abbott previously.

In their letter they claim I have defamed their client in a number of my articles published online.

I note that when I have approached their client he has refused to respond and despite it being an open forum Mr Lawler has chosen not to express his views or dispute facts via the comments section as many others have done.

It is my personal opinion that this is an attempt to intimidate and bully me into not reporting on these matters any more. A motive for this perhaps being that his partner Kathy Jackson seeks to take control of the NSW Branch of the HSU after the upcoming Union election next March.

But of course that is just my opinion and I will be sending them a response today

I probably don’t need to say this, however it should be known that I would both welcome and relish the opportunity to see both Michael Lawler and Kathy Jackson in court, under oath and answering questions on these matters in a defamation proceeding, just as I’m sure many others would.

With that in mind, I would request something of all of the solicitors who would also like the opportunity to grill the Fair Work Commission Vice President and his partner the former Union Branch Secretary on the witness stand in open court and will no doubt be in contact.

Please form an orderly queue.

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