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MP wants case to proceed despite causing ICAC court "paralysis"

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Eleven cases investigated by South Australia’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption are in limbo because of issues raised in the prosecution of independent MP Troy Bell, a court has heard.

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Bell is due to stand trial later this year charged with 20 counts of theft and dishonesty in relation to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But a District Court judge recently criticised how Bell’s case was investigated, including the decision by ICAC to refer it straight to the director of public prosecutions and bypass police.

However, the judge stopped short of agreeing to a defence application for a permanent stay of proceedings based on those issues.

On Monday, DPP Martin Hinton QC told the court that there were 11 matters either already before the courts or with his office were now “in a state of paralysis” because of the issues raised in the Bell ruling.

He wants those questions of law determined before the Bell case continues.

But Bell’s lawyer, Marie Shaw QC, wants his case to proceed, first with an argument over the admissibility of evidence.

She told the court on Monday that it would be unfair to delay the proceedings, considering the long period of time since the charges were laid.

“My client has had this matter hanging over his head for a very long time,” Shaw said.

After failing in his stay application, Bell vowed to continue to fight to clear his name.

The charges cover a period before he entered state parliament when he worked as an independent provider of educational programs.

Prosecutors have accused him of overcharging and falsifying invoices, accounts and meeting minutes.

As the member for Mt Gambier, he was first elected as a Liberal in 2014 but quit the party after his arrest in August 2017.

He was returned at the 2018 state election after contesting the poll as an independent.

District Court Judge Leisl Chapman will make a ruling on the immediate future of the case later on Monday.

-AAP

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