Peter Slipper
Peter Slipper

Peter Slipper excused from attending court on fraud counts

UPDATE: SUNSHINE Coast MP Peter Slipper will be required to enter a plea at the next mention of his court case next month in relation to allegations of fraud.

The case in the Canberra Magistrates Court was adjourned.

Mr Slipper was given permission not to appear - a request not contested by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP).

His lawyer Peter Russo has provided a submission to the CDPP.

Mr Russo would not elaborate on the contents of the submission, but said the adjournment had been sought to allow the CDPP to review it.

CDPP accepted the extension.

Mr Slipper has not yet been formally charged by the Australian Federal Police but he has been served with notice to appear in court.

A lengthy investigation into his use of parliamentarians' entitlements by the Australian Federal Police led to three allegations against him.

The case followed an ongoing investigation by the Sunshine Coast Daily over thousands of dollars of money being spent on travel in and around Sydney and Canberra, including at times when Parliament was not sitting.

The Daily lodged a complaint with the Federal Government over his spending and launched a petition which called for greater accountability for all MPs over their spending.

Various reports have said the charges related to day trips Mr Slipper went on around the Australian Capital Territory to wineries, with travel believed to be paid for by the taxpayer.

After the brief hearing in Canberra last month, Mr Slipper's lawyer Peter Russo said he thought it was suspicious and unusual that such a case had been taken directly to court, rather than followed up out of the public eye.

"It's a bit unusual that such a matter has been progressed to this stage through the court system," Mr Russo said.

"It's also a bit difficult to determine what the specific public interest would be in pursuing this matter in this manner."

Mr Russo said Mr Slipper maintained his innocence of the charges.

The case comes just months after the former Speaker of the House of Representatives beat charges of sexual harassment his former employee James Ashby laid against him, in a case which the judge Justice Steven Rares said revealed a political conspiracy against Mr Slipper.

Justice Rares was highly critical of the involvement of now LNP candidate for Fisher Mal Brough.

There were fresh calls for Mr Brough to face his own investigation last week.

But Mr Brough told ABC radio  he had nothing to hide and would welcome an investigation by the Australian Federal Police.

He made reference to Mr Slipper facing charges and a court appearance.

Mr Brough has set up a campaign office in the same building as Mr Slipper's electorate office at Buddina.

He told the ABC he had not seen Mr Slipper at his office in the time he had been there.

Background to the Peter Slipper allegations

The former LNP representative and ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives is alleged to have knowingly filled out false details on a series of Cabcharge vouchers relating to travel on three separate days in 2010 to hide from the Department of Finance and Administration the true nature of the expense incurred.

Court documents allege hat Mr Slipper had been repeatedly requested since 2006 by Parliamentary and Ministerial Services to use his Cabcharge card electronically because vouchers posed accountability and administration problems.

Despite that correspondence it will be alleged that on January 20, 2010, he used Cabcharge vouchers to pay the $337 cost to travel from Canberra to a number of wineries, a purpose not covered by his entitlements.

The Australian Federal Police have alleged he filled in and signed four Cabcharge dockets showing false information in each as to where the "trips" started and ended including false details for the amounts of the fares.

The AFP will allege he wrote dockets for trips from Parliament House to suburbs $87; from suburbs to Parliament House $80; from suburbs to suburbs $75; and from suburbs to suburbs $95.

It is alleged the details were false and Mr Slipper knew them to be so.

"He deliberately did not fill in the actual details of the trip and deliberately did not fill in the actual fare for the trip of $337,'' court documents say.

"His intention in doing so was to hide from the Department of Finance and Administration the fact that he had used the Cabcharge card when he knew he was not entitled to do so.

"He believed that the Department of Finance and Administration would not find out that he had improperly used the card and he believed that the department would pay for the fares.''

Mr Slipper will also face similar charges for allegedly using the same method to hide trips to wineries on April 19 and June 27 on both occasions disguising the true nature of the journeys by falsely filling in Cabcharge vouchers he had been told not to use.

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