There are partners at Slater and Gordon who would do well to consider going to authorities today to make statements about what they knew of the circumstances of the assistance afforded to Bruce Morton Wilson by lawyer(s) at Slater and Gordon during July/August 1995.
On 14 July 1995 Bruce Wilson attempted to withdraw $160,770.00 from the AWU Members Welfare Association No1 bank account held at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia by a cheque he attempted to deposit into an account he controlled personally.
On the same day all the AWU's bank accounts in Melbourne had been frozen by the new AWU Victoria Branch Secretary Bob Smith. This post contains some history.
The Commonwealth Bank was advised of a "dispute" between new AWU Secretary Bob Smith and former AWU Secretary Bruce Wilson concerning certain Victorian "AWU" accounts.
The CBA, Bob Smith and Ian Cambridge (including in his sworn affidavit) all agree that Bob Smith was represented in the "dispute" by Maurice Blackburn lawyers and Bruce Wilson was represented by Slater and Gordon.
It's important to look at what the dispute was about and what bank account was involved.
The major source of the dispute was money held in an account styled AWU Members Welfare Association No 1.
Here is the bank statement for the account for the period from November 1992 until 18 August 1995 when it was closed.
Every 7 days the account records a deposit of about $300 with the word "Pay" or "Salary". Jim Collins refers to the account as a "fighting fund". The account's records at the CBA and all its statements and cheques show it was owned by an unincorporated association called the AWU Members Welfare Association.
At law where a group of people get together for a common purpose an association exists. If they agree to set up a bank account it should be operated in trust for their association. It is now clear that Bruce Wilson used that account to deposit cheques made out to the AWU itself. He was caught trying to empty the account of both the Association members' contributions and the proceeds of the AWU cheques.
Bob Smith and Maurice Blackburn acted reasonably in freezing that account when the AWU discovered that about $160,000 in cheques made out to the AWU itself had been deposited into the account owned by the AWU Members Welfare Association and controlled by Wilson.
The AWU could demonstrate that the AWU Members Welfare Association could have been passing itself off as the AWU. It might have been fraudulently receiving money intended for the AWU.
This post contains the relevant letters advising the AWU's National Executive of the facts - up to and including the minutes of the AWU National Finance Committee on 2 August, 1995.
On 2 August 1995 Wilson told the Finance Committee that the AWU Members Welfare Association No 1 account held a mixture of private funds and money owned by the AWU. The Finance Committee resolved to get the auditors in as soon as possible.
On Saturday 12 August 1995 The Age newspaper published this report
Officials leave branch of AWU
|The national construction branch of the giant Australian Workers Union was in turmoil yesterday following the departure of almost half of the senior officials.
At least three senior organisers, including the national branch secretary, Mr Bruce Wilson, yesterday accepted voluntary redundancy packages that have been offered to all staff.
On Monday, 14 August 1995 Julia Gillard was interviewed by Nick Styant Browne and Geoff Shaw about the conveyance file for 1/85 Kerr Street Fitzroy and questioned about the incorporation file for the AWU Workplace Reform Association Inc. She immediately went on leave from Slater and Gordon.
On Wednesday 16 August 1995 the AWU Finance Committee met (probably by telephone conference). Two days later the AWU National President Bill Ludwig made and swore this Affidavit.
According to the sworn affidavit made two days after the event:
That meeting (16 August 1995) of the National Finance Committee of the AWU resolved that a meeting of the Auditors of the NCB and the AWU Victoria Branch should take place as soon as possible.
On 17 August 1995 Bob Smith, Jim Collins and Bruce Wilson attended at the Commonwealth Bank. Bob Smith was represented by Maurice Blackburn lawyers at the meeting and attended in his official capacity as the AWU Victoria Branch state secretary.
On the evidence, there were reasonable grounds for the AWU to assert ownership over the cheques made out to it which had been deposited into an account owned by the Members Welfare Association.
The only other party with any claim to the money in that account was the unincorporated association called the AWU Members Welfare Association.
Actions were underway to bring in the Auditors to examine the accounts. Those actions should have been allowed to run their course. Everything should have remained frozen in that clearly suspect bank accountl. Bruce Wilson had been formally advised that in the opinion of the lawyers retained by the AWU Victoria Branch his actions should be the subject of criminal charges.
The Commonwealth Bank had in front of it an account with funds in dispute. It had two apparently ethical law firms representing the interests of persons involved in the dispute.
The Slater and Gordon lawyer who represented Bruce Wilson did not act ethically. There were only two parties that could reasonably be parties to the dispute over the funds. The AWU itself, or the members of the AWU Members Welfare Association.
When Slater and Gordon resolved to act for Bruce Wilson himself in circumstances where it had a duty to the AWU, it must have aided the completion of any offences he committed.
It was known that Wilson was to be referred to police for fraud.
As to whether or not Slater and Gordon held itself out as acting for Wilson some of the evidence is below.
On 9 August Ian Cambridge recorded this telephone conversation in letter to the CBA's Peter McCarthy:
Peter Gordon refers to Slater and Gordon acting for each of the AWU and "a union official" and ceasing to act for each of the parties when Slater and Gordon became aware of fraud.
Peter Gordon says the firm gave Julia Gillard the benefit of the doubt that existed in his mind as to the question of whether she was a party to the fraud. On the evidence, the only cause for doubt was her denial that she was complicit. A mountain of evidence points to her active involvement. The law provides that a person be convicted if the evidence to prove a charge is beyond reasonable doubt. Peter Gordon was exceedingly generous.
At the CBA on 17 August 1995, the Manager of the CBA closed the AWU Members Welfare Association No 1 account at the request of the AWU's lawyers Maurice Blackburn.
At that time the CBA handed the money in the account to Bob Smith and Bruce Wilson.
Wilson was then supervised as the money he was caught taking from those various companies was returned to them by bank cheque.
All the evidence points to a Slater and Gordon lawyer advising Wilson during this time. The CBA does not say the parties to the dispute were Bob Smith's AWU Branch represented by Mauricew Blackburn and Bruce Wilson natural person unrepresented. Providing legal advice to this man and acting in public in his interests to limit his potential exposure to criminal sanctions is not only a terrible realised conflict in Slater and Gordon's duties to its real client; to the extent that it conceals Wilson's crimes it can only have aided him in his criminal endeavours. A reasonable person in the circumstances must have seen that. A love-struck lover who had so compromised her legal ethics during a complex course of conduct extending from November 1991 to its ultimate downfall in August 1995 might have had reason to attempt to block further investigation. But she could have no lawful excuse for her actions.
Consider the bank teller caught by the bank's auditors after stealing money from clients. He steals money from another source with the aid of a lawyer. He uses that money to refund the bank's clients. Is he then no longer a crook?
On 16 August 1995 Wilson prepared letters like this.
Controversy is euphemistically used by Mr Wilson. Allegations of theft, reports of police investigation, extortion, protection racketeering and theft would have been more direct.
Earlier today a man who has been gifted extraordinary insights into complex legal matters, Hillbilly 33 wrote to us all in a comment on another post.
I'm in his debt. Here is his note.
From Hillbilly 33
I'm with you all the way Michael and share your disgust, frustration and determination. I'm pleased you've now honed in on the critical AWU Member's Welfare Association (No,1) Account.
This is the big one the coverup conspirators wanted to get rid of, Julia Gillard in particular, as it contained the obvious paper trails to the use of Union funds in her house renovations -
- In October 1994 2 x $8,750 cheques were paid out to Town Mode Fashions owned by Kew Renovators
- On 27 April 1995 a cheque for $15,000 made out to cash was paid out with a notation on the back to have a Bank Cheque for $10,000 drawn for Kon Spyridis. That left $5,000 in cash which matched the figure Wayne Hem swears Wilson gave him to deposit in the account of Julia Gillard, although there were many such $5,000's withdrawn from the AWUWRA Inc A/c as well..
Ralph Blewitt had nothing to do with this Welfare account, which is a huge blow to all the Gillard apologists trying to put the blame on him and discredit any of his evidence as the basis for the charges she will face. No wonder the fraudulent AWU officials lamented: "If Cambridge isn't stopped we're all history".
For anyone not up with all the details on the Welfare A/c, read the Ian Cambridge Addtess to QLD AWU Branch delegates plus his affidavit. On 2nd August 1995:
"We got to this thing called the Members Welfare Account.....contained a mixture of private and Union money.....Now we said, well quite frankly we said Shit! .......That is a big problem." "On 4th August.....Bob Smith wrote to me saying that he was going to charge Bruce Wilson under the Rules of the Union and report him to the police for fraud." "During the Finance Committee meeting he'd actually said things suggesting that what we've uncovered was secret commissions ..........and certain peope could go to jail for this."
This is a sordid, ugly and most distasteful tale. But it is important. Julia Gillard became my nation's Prime Minister with the aid of the union at the heart of this matter.
The Prime Minister is the most important elected official in our system of government. Any doubts about how she got there must be resolved.
Australia deserves the truth. Now.