Health Services Union’s ex-secretary guilty of embezzlement

by Chloe Taylor14 Sep 2015
Former head of the Health Services Union (HSU) and ex-Labor MP Craig Thomson was found guilty of using union money to fund his 2007 election campaign on Friday.

The Federal Court upheld Fair Work Australia’s numerous claims, which alleged that Thomson had used union funds in contravention of his duties as a union official. 

In his judgement, Justice Christopher Jessup wrote that Thomson had made “improper use of his position to gain advantage for himself”.

The document gave details on Thomson’s unauthorised spending – a sum of tens of thousands of dollars – on advertising fees, charitable donations, campaign mail-outs and furniture for his campaign office.

He was also found to have negotiated almost $100,000 in sponsorship for the Central Coast Division of Rugby League from 2006 to 2008, without authorisation.

Another unauthorised payment included Thomson spending money on personal travel for himself and his wife when he relocated from Victoria to NSW to run for election.

Jessup also expressed criticism towards Thomson’s hiring of Criselee Stevens in 2005, who was paid by the HSU but was mostly “occupied doing the respondent's bidding in building his profile as a community/political campaigner”.

In a statement, the Fair Work Commission’s general manager, Bernadette O’Neill, praised Jessup’s decision.

“I welcome today’s Federal Court decision by Justice Jessup finding against former HSU national secretary Craig Thomson,” she said.

“As a result of today’s decision, there will be a further proceeding on 9 November 2015 for the purpose of considering what, if any, relief is granted.”

In the final months of 2014, Thomson evaded jail time after being found guilty of 13 charges of theft against the HSU. Instead, he was fined $25,000.

The Court will decide upon the penalties for its latest findings against Thomson at a hearing in November.

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