Another former WA politician has pleaded guilty to hindering a corruption investigation into his misuse of taxpayer-funded electoral allowances — in this instance by lying under oath and throwing his mobile phone into the ocean.
- Ellis pleaded guilty to two charges arising from the 2019 probe
- One related to him lying while on the witness stand
- The other stemmed from him throwing his phone into the ocean
Brian Ellis, 72, a former Liberal member of the Legislative Council, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to two charges arising from a 2019 Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) investigation, which later found he had used his allowances to pay for a visit to a Japanese bath house and to go a Northbridge strip club.
The Perth Magistrates Court was told Ellis was ordered to appear before the then secret CCC hearing in 2020, but during his testimony he falsely claimed he had thrown his mobile phone into a rubbish bin at a northern suburbs shopping centre.
Ellis threw phone into ocean after giving evidence
In reality, Ellis still had the phone, but he threw it into the ocean a week after giving evidence.
Prosecutor Jean Shaw said because of Ellis’s lie and the disposal of his phone, the CCC was prevented from examining it.
The court heard Ellis had used an app on the phone to communicate with two other politicians, Phil Edman and Nigel Hallett, and there may have been data on it which would have been relevant to the CCC’s investigation.
Ms Shaw submitted that the offences were serious because they “demonstrated a complete lack of regard for the CCC and its processes”.
Ellis admits he ‘disgraced’ himself
Ellis’s barrister, Paul Yovich SC, said his client was genuinely remorseful for what he had done, and he read a letter that Ellis had written to the court in which he said he apologised for his actions.
“I have no excuses for my actions, and I take full responsibility for what I have done.”
“I have embarrassed and distressed my family and also disgraced myself.
“I will regret my actions for the rest of my life.”
Actions will not ‘stain’ 20 years of service: lawyer
Mr Yovich submitted that his client was a third-generation grain and sheep farmer who had given 20 years to public service, including a decade as a member of parliament.
He said the convictions would not “put a stain on that service and on his character”.
Mr Yovich also noted the offences were not “sophisticated”, saying the lie he told “was the first thing that popped into his head”, while “he didn’t think” when he threw away the phone.
Magistrate Catherine Crawford reserved her decision on the penalty until next Tuesday, and she renewed Ellis’s bail until then.
His guilty pleas follow admissions earlier this month by Edman that he also hindered the CCC’s investigation and tipped off others, including Ellis, that it was happening.
Edman was given a seven-month suspended jail term and fined $12,000 and afterwards, in a statement read by his lawyer, he suggested, he should have been given training about the CCC in his role as an MP.
None of the charges to which the men pleaded guilty related to Edman’s and Ellis’s misuse of their electoral allowances.
In reports tabled in parliament, the CCC found Edman had also misused the allowances by using it for personal expenses, including lavish dinners, the berthing fees for his yacht, visits to strip clubs, and paying women for sex.