The West

A key figure in the AWU scandal dogging Julia Gillard has backed the Prime Minister's version of events and lashed out at one of her accusers.

Lawyer Peter Gordon, formerly a partner in the legal firm Slater & Gordon, said there was "no explicit or indirect evidence" Ms Gillard had been involved in any wrong- doing during her time as an industrial lawyer for the firm before she left 17 years ago.

While at Slater & Gordon, Ms Gillard did legal work for her then union boss boyfriend Bruce Wilson who allegedly siphoned money from AWU members into accounts that were misused, including for the purchase of property.

The PM has strenuously denied any knowledge of the alleged fraud. When she became aware of the misuse of union members' money in 1995 she immediately broke off her relationship with Mr Wilson and has not spoken to him since.

A former equity partner at Slater & Gordon, Nick Styant-Browne, has claimed Ms Gillard resigned from the firm as a result of an internal probe of the work she had done for Mr Wilson. Mr Styant-Browne said Ms Gillard had, in a recorded and transcribed interview, stated she could not categorically rule out that she had benefited from union funds in the renovation of her home.

Now based in Seattle, Mr Styant-Browne has been served legal papers by lawyers representing his old firm and Mr Gordon to demand he return confidential documents he may have in relation to the AWU/Wilson matter, including the transcript of the interview with Ms Gillard.

Mr Gordon was angered when Mr Styant-Browne leaked a statement to the Australian newspaper that Mr Gordon had sent to him for fact and date checking.

"This was done without my knowledge or consent," Mr Gordon said. "I am, to say the very least, extremely disappointed that this has occurred; not least because a first draft is just that, and it is unfair to represent it on the front page of a national newspaper."

Mr Gordon said he believed at the time there was no explicit or individual evidence that Ms Gillard was involved in any wrongdoing and that remained his view.

Slater & Gordon managing director Andrew Grech said it was regrettable Mr Styant-Browne had released confidential communications.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who said on Sunday the PM had to make a statement to Parliament to explain her conduct, backed away from that yesterday but said it was a "perfectly legitimate issue for the media to raise".

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the story had been regurgitated regularly in the PM's political career.

'This was done without my knowledge or consent.'" Lawyer *Peter Gordon *

The West Australian

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