– Tiffany’s Girls claims to be Sydney’s best brothel. It is also one of the establishments where police claim former federal Labor MP Craig Thomson used a Health Services Union credit card to pay for prostitutes.
Thomson, 48, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday to face 154 fraud and theft charges after his arrest last week at his New South Wales Central Coast office.
He is accused of using the HSU credit cards to pay for sexual services at Tiffany’s Girls, Boardroom Escorts, A Touch of Class, Keywed Pty Ltd (a company allegedly linked to the escort agency Sydney Outcalls Network) and Aboutoun Catering (listed as an escort service).
The amount paid at the Sydney brothels and escort agencies totalled more than $5600 between March 2003 and August 2007.
Thomson is also charged with using union credit cards to spend more than $40,000 on in-house R-rated pornographic movies at hotels; food and drinks; cigarettes; flights; car hire; petrol; taxis; valet parking; cash withdrawals; and hotel rooms.
The father-of-two has consistently denied any wrongdoing and vowed to vigorously defend the charges against him.
Defence lawyer Bill Dwyer told the court on Wednesday that Thomson was concerned at the way he had been brought to the court.
Mr Dwyer said Mr Thomson had been ordered to appear in Melbourne at short notice and he’s anxious to get these matters resolved.
He asked the court for a witness list to be provided to his client but the prosecution said it was not available.
Magistrate Donna Bakos ordered Thomson to appear again on May 22nd for a committal mention.
A 20-volume police brief of evidence was expected to be sent to Thomson’s legal team by April 17th.
Ms Bakos varied Thomson’s bail to include a provision that he not contact any employees of a number of businesses, including one which operated the Touch of Class brothel in Sydney.
Outside court after the hearing, a defiant Thomson stood with his wife, Zoe, in front of a large media pack and criticised the police handling of the case.
He said he wanted to clear his name as quickly as possible and was disappointed that police could not provide a witness list for a case they had been investigating for more than 18 months.
The charges against Thomson followed a Victorian Police fraud investigation into the finances of the Health Services Union.
Thomson, the member for Dobell who was suspended from the Labor Party early last year over the allegations, was the union’s national secretary from 2002 until his election to Federal Parliament in December 2007. Court documents state that the alleged offences occurred between December 2002 and April 2008.
Thomson is still being investigated by NSW police in relation to Strike Force Carnarvon, looking into alleged fraud in the NSW branch of the HSU – Mark Russell