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The Australian's report after hearing the DPP's reasons for discontinuing the Blewitt AWU prosecution

Here's Andrew Burrell's report in The Weekend Australian today - Andrew was in court and spoke to Ralph shortly after he was discharged.

I'm sure the prospect of Ralph securing the documents (and other material) he refers to in this report had the shivers suited up and ready to run up a few prominent if bent spines.


AWU bagman Ralph Blewitt cries foul as case dropped

Former union bagman Ralph Blewitt in Perth. Picture: Colin Murty.
Former union bagman Ralph Blewitt in Perth. Picture: Colin Murty.
  • The Australian

Former union bagman Ralph Blewitt says 31 fraud charges against him were suddenly dropped this week after he signalled an intention to subpoena 593 “incriminating” documents and to call Julia Gillard and a Federal Court judge as witnesses.

Speaking outside the Perth District Court yesterday after the charges were formally withdrawn, Mr Blewitt said he was “bloody annoyed” at the collapse of the case because it meant those guilty of crimes in the long-running affair were now unlikely to ever be prosecuted.

The court was told admissions made by Mr Blewitt to the trade unions royal commission would not be admissible in the case, which related to the alleged embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars from an Australian Workers Union slush fund. The charges were withdrawn due to “no reasonable prospect of conviction”.

Although Mr Blewitt had ­admitted his involvement in the scandal, he pleaded not guilty to the 31 fraud charges because he said he was “purely and simply a bagman”.

The AWU slush fund was set up in the early 1990s by then union boss Bruce Wilson with legal assistance from Ms Gillard, who was his girlfriend at the time. Money from the AWU Workplace Reform Association was used to partly fund the purchase of a house in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy in 1993. The association was supposed to promote training and safety on construction sites.

Ms Gillard has repeatedly and vehemently denied knowing the fund was to be used in a fraud.

The royal commission found she had been “casual and haphazard” in her work at law firm Slater & Gordon but had not committed offences, and was not aware of Mr Wilson’s conduct.

Mr Blewitt yesterday said he had lined up a senior barrister to run the case and had begun moves to subpoena 593 documents held by the Director of Public Prosecutions. “I suspect the reason these charges have been dropped today is that they do not want me to get access to those 593 incriminating documents that have vital information in them that would go to the heart of additional crimes committed by parties involved in the AWU fraud,” he said.

Mr Blewitt said he had planned to call Mr Wilson, Ms Gillard and a former Slater & Gordon solicitor, Bernard Murphy, who is now a Federal Court judge, to give evidence.