High Court appeal delays Ellis trial

·2-min read

The trial for a South Australian MP facing 23 deception charges has been stalled to wait for the outcome of a High Court hearing in another MP's matter.

The case against former Liberal Fraser Ellis, who now sits on the crossbench in parliament, came before Adelaide Magistrates Court on Wednesday over allegations he made fraudulent claims for a parliamentary allowance.

The court heard that the High Court appeal involving another SA MP, Troy Bell, could potentially have an impact on the Ellis case.

Bell, who has been charged with multiple theft offences, has appealed to the High Court after failing in a bid to have the proceedings against him permanently stayed based on issues with the investigation conducted by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

The charge against Ellis also arose from an ICAC probe.

"There are matters that are being considered by the High Court that are relevant to these proceedings," Ellis's counsel Anthony Allen SC told magistrate Christopher Smolicz on Wednesday.

"The interpretation of the ICAC Act is certainly something that will occupy the focus of the High Court."

Mr Smolicz said the Bell cased raised a lot of issues and was a complicated matter.

"It would be more efficient for that all to be determined way in advance of any (Ellis) trial," he said.

Prosecutor Ryan Williams said a delay was not opposed with the High Court sitting possibly not happening until January or February next year.

He also told the court that it was important that whichever magistrate hears the Ellis case not have any affiliation with political parties, given the highly political and sensitive nature of the allegations.

Ellis had been due to stand trial in November, but that has now been delayed until June next year, after the next state election in March.

After a previous court appearance, he vowed to defend the allegations and was "innocent until proven guilty".

"I'm certainly intending to clear my name in the fullness of time," he told reporters in May.

Ellis is accused of making fraudulent claims for the country members' accommodation allowance, totalling more than $18,000, between May 13, 2018 and June 12, 2020.

It's alleged he claimed accommodation expenses for staying in Adelaide overnight to carry out his parliamentary duties when he was not actually staying in the city.

The charges prompted him to move to the crossbench in the SA House of Assembly where he was elected as the Liberal member for Narungga in 2018.

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