Labor hits out at Vic Police rorts raids

Georgie Moore and Kaitlyn Offer
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DAN ANDREWS EMERGENCY SERVICES PRESSER

Daniel Andrews says he's too busy to look at evidence for police over Victorian ALP's votes scandal

Dawn raids across three states and territories and the arrests of 17 people over Victorian Labor's rorts-for-votes scandal has sparked claims of heavy-handed police tactics.

With less than four months until a state election, Victorian Labor continues to be rocked by the $388,000 scandal, which dates back to the party's successful 2014 campaign.

State secretary Samuel Rae said the party would continue to co-operate with police in the investigation into the misuse of parliamentary entitlements, but hit out at the fraud squad's tactics.

"Conducting dawn raids on people's homes was completely unnecessary given those involved would have cooperated if asked," Mr Rae said in a statement.

"We have also received a number of concerning reports about the raids, including that some of those questioned were told by Victoria Police that they did not need legal representation during the interview process.

"On behalf of our people, we reserve all rights in these matters."

Only ALP field organisers were questioned in Melbourne, regional Victoria, NSW and the Northern Territory on Thursday.

Among them is whistleblower Jake Finnigan, a former staffer for now-Police Minister Lisa Neville.

He told reporters he was arrested at home at 5.55am for "making a false document" and taken to a Melbourne police station where he was strip searched before being put in a cell before an interview.

He was later released without charge, but told he could be charged by summons at a later date.

Lawyer Rob Stary is advising Labor and several of those arrested and also questioned the raids.

"The way they were conducted was unusual, ordinarily when police arrest or process a person for these sorts of inquiries its done by appointment," he told reporters.

Victoria Police rejected the criticisms.

"Media and the public can be reassured that proper process has, and will continue to be, followed throughout the course of the investigation," they said in a statement..

A police spokesman said it is standard practice to do a full safety and evidence search before someone is put in a holding cell.

The arrests come six days after the launch of a police fraud squad investigation into the approval of taxpayer funds being spent on Labor campaign staff during the party's successful 2014 election.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass in March found 21 past and present Labor MPs systematically misused public funds in breach of parliamentary guidelines, but added most participants thought they were acting in accordance with the law.

Premier Daniel Andrews' office declined to comment.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy repeated his call for six cabinet ministers linked to the scheme, including Ms Neville and Attorney-General Martin Pakula, to step aside.

"The government can't sustain this any longer," he told reporters.

After the fraud and extortion probe was announced, the government asked police to investigate claims 18 Liberal and National MPs used electorate staff for campaigning during normal office hours.