Peter Slipper could face jail time, loss of pension
DISGRACED MP Peter Slipper faces the possibility of jail time and could lose his retirement benefits after being found guilty of deliberately defrauding the Commonwealth Government.
The former Member for Fisher and former Speaker of Parliament tried unsuccessfully to have the charges against him dropped three times.
But ACT Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker ruled yesterday he did "dishonestly and knowingly use parliamentary cab charge vouchers".
Mr Slipper could face a year's imprisonment and a $10,000 fine if found guilty.
Sentencing is due on September 22.
He also stands to lose his $157,000 a year pension and other benefits enjoyed as a long-serving MP.
Mr Slipper had pleaded not guilty to three charges that he dishonestly used $954 worth of Cabcharge vouchers to take a taxpayer-funded wine-tasting tour of Canberra in 2010.
His alarming state of mental health was detailed in June when his defence team tried to have the charges dropped on mental health grounds.
His Buderim psychiatrist, Chris Martin, told the court Mr Slipper had tried to commit suicide twice and had a continual struggle with alcohol.
He was also separated from his wife of eight years, Inge, who had stood by him at the last election.
Questions about Mr Slipper's use of parliamentary entitlements were raised long before he appeared in court last week.
On November 3, 2010, the Daily revealed Mr Slipper had an almost decade-long history of being required to pay back money in excess of his entitlements.
He argued at the time nearly every incident was a consequence of either a misunderstanding or a disputable interpretation of the rules.
He tried unsuccessfully to use a similar argument during his court hearing last week in the third bid to have the charges dropped.
Mr Slipper said he had been using the cab vouchers at wineries, but denied he was doing so illegally.
His lawyer, Kylie Weston-Scheuber, argued the prosecution had failed to prove Mr Slipper was not on parliamentary business because there was no legal definition of the term.
Ms Walker dismissed the application.
Mr Slipper held the seat of Fisher from 1984 to 1987 for the Nationals and from 1993 for the Liberals (later the LNP) until his defeat at the last election by Mal Brough.
Standing as an Independent, Mr Slipper managed to secure only 1.6% of the vote.
Mr Slipper resigned as Speaker in October 9, 2012, after allegations of sexual abuse by a former staffer, James Ashby.
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