Labor MPs in ‘red shirts’ rort decline police request for interviews

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Shadow attorney-general John Pesutto stated the refusal to co-operate “smacks of one other cowl up by Labor”.

“If Labor’s received nothing to cover, they’ve received nothing to worry,” he stated. “Labor MPs beneath investigation by the Fraud and Extortion Squad may need the appropriate to silence, however their silence is deafening.”

A authorities spokeswoman declined to touch upon the newest improvement.

“As this matter is ongoing, it’s not acceptable to remark,” she stated.

A Labor Get together spokesman additionally refused to reply.

Six sitting ministers within the Andrews authorities had been named within the Ombudsman’s report as beneficiaries of the scheme, together with Sports activities Minister John Eren, Legal professional-Basic Martin Pakula, Particular Minister of State Gavin Jennings, Youth Affairs Minister Jenny ­Mikakos, Corrections Minister Gayle Tierney and Vitality Minister Lily D’Ambrosio.

It’s not identified which of those ministers the police want to converse to.

Mr Stary additionally declined to touch upon the choice for MPs to keep away from questions from police.

Nevertheless, he advised The Age final month that it was routine for police to conduct interviews as a part of an investigation.

“Ordinarily in these conditions, there can be a proper report of interview, the place a suspect is cautioned and knowledgeable of their rights,” Mr Stary stated.

He was commenting on a plan by police to subject MPs with a questionnaire quite than interviewing them, which he described as “extraordinarily unorthodox”.

Veteran legal barrister Peter Faris, QC, stated the choice to keep away from interviews was “uncommon, however there’s nothing unsuitable with it”.

 Rob Stary is representing Labor MPs

Rob Stary is representing Labor MPs Credit score:Fairfax

“Any citizen beneath investigation by the police has the appropriate to silence, which is an virtually absolute proper.

“Nevertheless you probably have an articulate consumer, who has a superb story to inform, then why not attend a police interview with a view to discouraging the police from laying fees,” Mr Faris stated.

He stated police can be compelled to proceed with out having “the good thing about the MPs’ model of occasions”.

On Tuesday, Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton stated the taskforce was ready on recommendation from the Workplace of Public Prosecutions. He insisted a choice was imminent and would in all probability occur earlier than subsequent month’s election.

“From a policing standpoint, you need this stuff off the books. So quickly as we are able to get it completed the higher,” Mr Ashton advised ABC radio.

In August, 17 Labor staffers had been subjected to daybreak raids on their properties earlier than they had been arrested and interviewed.

One former citizens officer, Jake Finnigan, was arrested at his house, taken to a police station, strip-searched and detained in a cell earlier than being interviewed.

A celebration spokesman on the time of the arrests described the police’s dealing with of the matter as “utterly pointless”.

The police response was likened to the therapy of organised criminals or terrorist suspects.

Labor stated its attorneys had notified police that staffers had been prepared to co-operate with the investigation into the alleged rorting scandal and would attend stations for questioning if requested.

An annual report tabled in Parliament final month revealed the Ombudsman’s probe into the “purple shirts” scandal had price $878,855, comprising $133,993 in exterior authorized charges and $744,862 in investigation prices.

In a damning report launched in March, Ombudsman Deborah Glass discovered Labor breached parliamentary guidelines by utilizing $388,000 of taxpayer funds to pay for marketing campaign workers, who helped Premier Daniel Andrews win the 2014 election.

Labor has since paid again the cash.

Benjamin is a state political reporter

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