Former WA Liberal MP ‘used allowance for strip clubs’

Former WA Liberal MP ‘used allowance for strip clubs’

FORMER West Australian Liberal MP Phil Edman allegedly used taxpayers’ money to visit strip clubs and quaff fine wine, a report by the Corruption and Crime Commission has revealed.

The report tabled in state parliament on Tuesday said the CCC had formed the opinion that Mr Edman used his allowance, which is meant to be spent on serving the electorate, on personal indulgences including attending the Penthouse Club in Perth four times.

On at least two of those occasions he entertained other people in one of the club’s “champagne rooms”.

He blamed his electorate officer, saying he was busy and left his claims “to the professionals”, which the CCC did not accept, saying Mr Edman had abused his position.

The report also revealed he was in a group of upper house MPs who called themselves the “Black Hand Gang” and would dine in a private room at a fancy restaurant twice a year, describing them as “seminars”.

Mr Edman claimed almost $18,000 for the dinners at venues including Lamonts and Silks at Crown Casino between December 2013 and June 2016.

One member raised concerns they would be perceived as “frivolous frequent taxpayer-funded excuse for an expensive piss-up”.

But Mr Edman said “some policy” was discussed at the “team-building” gatherings, which he arranged.

“There’s also a trophy presentation,” he said.

After the CCC raided his business and residence, seizing a laptop, Mr Edman got a former MP and a party official to contact various sitting members to warn them.

“It’s got everything, all the emails between all of us, Black Hand Gang dinners, its got the video, there’s enough stuff on that f***** computer to bury f***** a lot of people,” he said to a former MP.

The CCC said it had also looked at his claims for vehicle use, Christmas functions, PayPal purchases, clothing, lotto syndicates, home insurance, private yacht expenses, and meals with family and friends – but had been hampered by the Legislative Council blocking access to material.

The investigation sparked a bitter dispute with the powerful Procedures and Privileges Committee, which demanded the corruption watchdog hand back the laptop over concerns some of the documents it contained were subject to parliamentary privilege.

As the matter headed to court, the CCC capitulated in September.

The CCC said Mr Edman had shown how WA’s electorate allowances system could be easily abused and more controls were needed.

It formed an opinion of serious misconduct.

The report deepens an earlier scandal involving him and disgraced former trade commissioner to Japan, Craig Peacock, who arranged a visit to a Tokyo bathhouse that Mr Edman insisted was non-sexual.

In a text to Mr Peacock, he referred to the city’s entertainment district and made a vulgar comment, and the reply was “all the tarts better get ready, Phil in the house!”