It may have taken a long time, but justice has finally caught up with former Health Services National Secretary and federal Labor MP Craig Thomson, who was today found guilty of defrauding his former union. The verdict today is final confirmation that Thomson did indeed rort large sums of money during his time as head of the HSU.
Interestingly, Thomson’s defence appears to have been based on the idea that the union expenditures on prostitutes and the like was not prohibited by the union’s rules, and therefore was not dishonest. Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg rejected this argument:
Mr Rozencwajg said evidence before the court showed that union funds, including union-issued credit cards, should be used only for the benefit of union members and Mr Thomson would have known this as national secretary.
He said it would be “an affront to common sense” to believe spending union money on escort services fell within any “grey area”.
Mr Rozencwajg said he had no doubt that Mr Thomson was fully aware he did not have authority to use union credit cards to pay for escorts.
The fact that Thomson hid such expenditures as “entertainment”, meetings and teleconferencing expenses was of course strong evidence that Thomson knew that this was an inappropriate use of union moneys.
However, 13 charges relating to Mr Thomson charging pornographic movies to his hotel room were dismissed as Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg held that the requisite element of dishonesty it could not be established beyond reasonable doubt in respect of those charges.
The verdict is mud in the face of Julia Gillard, who on numerous occasions expressed “complete confidence” in Thomson following the revelations that he had used his union credit card to pay for escorts. It is also mud in the face of all the Labor politicians who suggested that Thomson may be innocent, and the gullible leftists on social media who regurgitated such Labor spin. Here is a good article by Tony Morris QC explaining the difference between the legal doctrine of the presumption of innocence and the political concept of the same name. There are many leftists who will struggle to comprehend the difference between the two, until and unless Tony Abbott is charged with something.
It is unclear when sentencing will occur. Given that the charges Thomson was convicted of involved large sums of money rorted over a long period of time, one hopes that a custodial sentence is imposed. Returning to the purposes of sentencing, there is no doubt that a tough sentence will help deter union officials and others who work in the community sector from defrauding the organisations they represent, and that Thomson deserves a substantial punishment for his wrongdoing.