24 August 2012 at 11:19 BST

Aussie PM bats away union scandal claims

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has staunchly rebutted claims that she benefitted from a union fund that she helped set up for free, and off the books, when practising as a lawyer 17 years ago.

Julia Gillard: robust defence

Julia Gillard: robust defence

In an hour-long press conference yesterday, Ms Gillard spoke for the first time on the allegations, which she called ‘false and highly defamatory’, reports the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Internal review

The claims relate to Ms Gillard’s stint as a lawyer at the firm Slater & Gordon in the 1990s, including her role in establishing the Australian Workers Union (AWU) workplace reform association in 1995. ‘I had no involvement in the working of the association,’ Ms Gillard told reporters. ‘I provided advice in relation to its establishment and that was it.’
Ms Gillard also stated that she had no knowledge of allegations that the association was being used for personal purposes by AWU official Bruce Wilson, her former partner, until the controversy became public in 1995. Ms Gillard then broke off her relationship with Mr Wilson and resigned from the firm in 1996 following an internal review of the AWU.
Mr Wilson was investigated by the police and the association but no prosecution was launched.


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