The ACT Supreme Court has overturned convictions for misusing Cabcharge dockets against former Queensland MP and speaker Peter Slipper.
The former Liberal, who became an independent and speaker during the Gillard government, had three convictions for dishonesty dismissed by Justice John Burns.
The charges related to the alleged misuse of $954 in Cabcharge dockets to visit wineries around Canberra in 2010. Slipper was found guilty last year and given a two-year good behaviour bond.
His lawyers appealed the verdict and this morning Justice Burns set aside both the conviction and sentence, finding him not guilty.
The judge ruled that chief magistrate Lorraine Walker had erred in finding that the trips were for purely personal reasons, concluding that the definition of “parliamentary business” was too narrow in this instance and that the prosecution had failed to prove he was not on parliamentary business.
“I am satisfied that she was not so entitled, and I am satisfied that the convictions recorded by the magistrate were unsafe and unsatisfactory,” the judgement said.
“It follows that it was not open to the magistrate, viewing the evidence as a whole, to convict.”
Slipper, who lost his seat of Fisher after 20 years to Liberal Mal Brough in the 2013 election.
Slipper stepped down as speaker in October 2012 following sexual harassment claims by former staff member James Ashby, who ended a two-year legal battle against Slipper last year without a result.
Brough, a backbencher and former Howard government minister who recently voiced concerns over Tony Abbott’s leadership, was found to be involved in both legal cases against Slipper.
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