MP bids to halt deception case

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A South Australian independent MP facing deception charges has applied to stay the proceedings, arguing parliamentary privilege protects documents that are key to the case.

Former Liberal Fraser Ellis, who now sits on the crossbench in parliament, faced Adelaide Magistrates Court on Friday charged with 23 counts of making fraudulent claims for a parliamentary allowance.

The charges against Ellis arose from an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Defence counsel Tom Duggan QC told the court that the forms used to claim the allowance, which formed the basis of the prosecution case, were protected and could not be tendered in court.

The forms and the question of their release had been the subject of debate in parliament.

"Our case is that that document is the subject of parliamentary privilege," Mr Duggan said.

But prosecutor Ryan Williams said the forms were prepared for an administrative purpose, not as part of parliamentary proceedings.

"Parliamentary privilege shouldn't dazzle the court," he said.

"It's not a cloak, it's not a magic wand."

Mr Williams said the defence submissions had misunderstood the scope of parliamentary privilege and its purposes.

Magistrate Simon Smart reserved his decision on the fate of the case until August.

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

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

He 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.

He was easily returned for another four-year term at the March state election after contesting the seat as an independent.

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