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Ralph Blewitt's defence team considers subpoenas for witnesses and documents - timely to listen to Nick Styant Browne again

Here's Nick in November 2012.

Here's a consolidated edited version of what Mr Styant Browne said in the interview.


Nick Styant Browne consolidated statement

In August of 2012 it became clear to me that after all these years this story was finally going to come out and Slater & Gordon made a public statement that Ms Gillard had been cleared of any wrongdoing, had taken a very long sabbatical, had resigned from the firm and a meeting room had been named after her. And that was on any view a stunningly incomplete account of the circumstances of her departure. And it was following that that I resolved it was in the public interest to release both non-privileged parts of the transcript of the interview of September 1995 together with Pete Gordon's statement concerning the circumstances of her departure.

There was an interview of Ms Gillard conducted on 11th September of 1995 where various matters were put to her concerning both her involvement in the incorporation of the association (AWU Workplace Reform Association) and her involvement in the acquisition of the Kerr Street property by Ralph Blewitt. And it was following upon that interview that Ms Gillard took her long sabbatical and resigned several months later in May of 1996.

So far as the association was concerned, Ms Gillard claimed that she thought it was a slush fund for the re-election of a union ticket headed by Bruce Wilson; that she had no involvement in the setting up of any bank accounts associated with the association and she had no involvement with the association otherwise following upon the work she did in relation to its incorporation. In respect of the property transaction involving Kerr Street, she stated that she understood Mr Blewitt was buying the property as an investment, that Mr Wilson would be a tenant and she believed that Mr Blewitt had the financial resources to fund the purchase together with a loan.

Ms Gillard stated in the interview that she did not open a file. This was not passing advice to a rank-and-file union member; this matter involved the incorporation of a legal entity and it was most unusual that a file was not opened. Fees were waived in relation to the work that was done on the file. Then there was the question of her involvement in the purchase of the Kerr Street property and the fact that she had understood that a tenant of the property was to be her then boyfriend Mr Wilson and that was a relationship which had never been disclosed to me. I did not find out about it until August of 1995. And so they were two of the principal matters that concerned me about her conduct.

There was a spectrum of views across the partnership and Peter Gordon has said that he was willing to give Julia Gillard the benefit of the doubt, so that was one end of the spectrum. I was towards the other end of the spectrum in that I was not readily prepared to give Ms Gillard the benefit of the doubt and I made that clear. There was never any real resolution of that debate in the partnership because as events transpired, Ms Gillard agreed to resign, and so it was never necessary for the partnership to resolve itself what actions should be taken.

As you can imagine from the circumstances that I've just explained regarding her work in the incorporation of the association and the acquisition of the Kerr Street property, those things taken together removed the trust as between the partners and Ms Gillard.

There was deep disquiet amongst the partnership about Ms Gillard's conduct and it was never necessary for the partnership to resolve that issue because Ms Gillard herself elected to resign.

Ms Gillard claimed at the interview in 1995 that the first she heard about the Slater & Gordon loan for the acquisition of the Kerr Street property was around August of that year. So, her claim is that the first she heard about the fact that the loan for the Kerr Street property was a Slater & Gordon mortgage was not until August of 1995, the transaction of course having taken place in March of 1993.

Those documents form part of a conveyancing file which are now matters of public record. So they are from the conveyancing file which Mr Blewitt consented be released and made publicly available. Now what those documents show is that there is no doubt Ms Gillard knew of the mortgage from Slater & Gordon in March of 1993. And just to give you some examples, she personally arranged for the mortgage insurance for the Kerr Street property through the Commonwealth Bank and a letter was faxed to her on March 22 of 1993 from the Commonwealth Bank marked for her attention noting that the insurance had been renewed and further advising that the Slater & Gordon mortgage interest was noted on the policy of insurance.

There is absolutely no doubt that Ms Gillard not only knew of the Slater & Gordon mortgage in March of 1993, but was specifically involved in taking steps to facilitate that mortgage. Now, that's a matter of documents; it's not a matter of assertion or hearsay. Now, you then have a situation where two and a half years later in September of 1995 Ms Gillard is asserting that the first she heard it was a Slater & Gordon mortgage was in August of 1995. Now, it's up to others to make the judgment about her credibility.


Given that there was deep disquiet about Ms Gillard's conduct at Slater and Gordon, that trust had shattered and evaporated and that her duty to act in utmost good faith towards her partners had not been fulfilled, it seem terribly unfair that it's only Ralph Blewitt in the dock to answer for the AWU Scandal crimes.

If one of her own partners, Nick Styant Browne harboured concerns about the propriety of her actions, I'd have hoped a jury might get to consider her conduct in The AWU Scandal overall.

Nick Styant Browne has/had in his possession a full and complete unredacted copy of the Gillard exit interview.

One and a half pages of that interview remained redacted at the TURC.

I think it's important for the criminal proceedings that the full and complete record is in evidence.

Mr Styant Browne strikes me as an ethical fellow with a keen sense of justice.  It'd be good to see some ethics and justice brought to this matter.

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PG: Yeah, I see. Sorry. Julia, you own property in Victoria?


EDITOR'S NOTE - When Victoria Police executed a search warrant on Gillard's former law firm office at Slater and Gordon the firm made a claim of client legal professional privilege over a group of documents.  When the firm took the matter to the Supreme Court of Victoria, police did not resist its application for an order that police not access the material in the file, however the court subsequently published a description of the material upon which the firm claimed privilege - relevantly:

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