The West

Update: Embattled federal MP Craig Thomson has been granted bail after being charged with fraud.

The Labor-turned-independent MP, wearing a purple and white-checked business shirt and grey trousers, represented himself and showed little emotion when he appeared in Wyong Local Court on Thursday.

Police said the only documents available to the court were an arrest warrant from Victoria Police, which included one charge of fraud - the misuse of a credit card to the amount of $330.

During the brief bail application, Mr Thomson was asked by the magistrate if he objected to the validity of the warrant.

He responded, “No, your worship.”

Mr Thomson was ordered to advise police within 24 hours of a change of address or plans to travel interstate or overseas, unless travelling as part of his parliamentary duties.

One of the conditions of Mr Thomson’s bail prohibits him from contacting any person, directly or through a third party, whom he allegedly engaged for sexual services.

He was bailed to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on February 6.

Police say Mr Thomson declined an offer to surrender himself to Victoria police, which led to his arrest in NSW relating to 150 fraud offences, police say.

But Mr Thomson’s lawyer disputes this, saying his client was only invited to travel to Victoria for an interview.

The federal independent MP was arrested at his electorate office in Tuggerah, on the NSW Central Coast, just after 1pm today under a warrant from the Victorian police.

“An arrest warrant had been issued for the 48-year-old man by Victorian authorities following investigations into allegations of fraud committed against the Health Services Union,” police said in a statement.

The NSW fraud squad assisted Victorian police in his arrest.

Head of the fraud squad, Detective Superintendent Colin Dyson, has seen the Victorian warrant.

“I believe from reading the warrant that he was invited to travel to Victoria to surrender himself prior to Christmas,” Det Supt Dyson told reporters outside Wyong Police Station.

“He didn’t do that, or refused, and the end result was the issue of that warrant.”

Outside court, Thomson denied he was guilty of any of the fraud offences with which he had been charged.

“On legal advice I’ve been asked not to give a speech, and as a politician that probably goes a little against the grain,” he said.

“And particularly when every fibre of my being is screaming out to say how wrong this is.

“I will be going to Melbourne. I’ll be vigorously defending these charges.

“And as I have said from the start, I have done no wrongdoing.”

His lawyer Chris McArdle said Mr Thomson would plead not guilty to all charges.

“This fellow is innocent and will maintain that innocence throughout,” he told Sky News.

Mr Thomson has strenuously denied allegations he misused union funds to pay for prostitutes, air travel, entertainment and cash withdrawals when he was national secretary of the Health Services Union from 2002 to 2007.

Mr Thomson has been suspended from the Labor party but it will be damaging for the Federal Government for him to be facing charges.

Federal Government frontbencher Craig Emerson said Mr Thomson was entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott declined to comment, saying the coalition would not discuss matters before the court.

Mr McArdle said his client was distressed by his arrest.

“He’s been falsely charged with 150 criminal offences, you don’t actually shrug your shoulders at that,” he told Macquarie Radio.

He said Mr Thomson could only be prevented from sitting in parliament if he was convicted.

“The only way you can be prevented from taking up and serving your seat in parliament is if you are convicted of an offence,” he said.

Mr Thomson wanted to spend time with his family now, Mr McArdle said.


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