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SA MP fronts court over accommodation allowance deception charges

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Former Liberal backbencher Fraser Ellis has vowed to clear his name after appearing in court for the first time on 23 deception charges related to the country members accommodation allowance.

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Ellis came before Adelaide Magistrates Court on Wednesday and was required to enter into a simple bail agreement.

He made no comment during his brief appearance.

The court was told a substantial amount of material had already been disclosed to the defence and the parties had begun discussions on the case.

By consent, it was adjourned to a pre-trial conference in May.

Outside the court, Ellis, who was elected to state parliament as the Liberal member for Narungga in 2018, said he would defend the allegations and was “innocent until proven guilty”.

“I’m certainly intending to clear my name in the fullness of time,” he told reporters.

The charges followed an investigation by SA’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

The ICAC will allege Ellis made fraudulent claims for the country members’ accommodation allowance, totalling more than $18,000, between May 13, 2018 and June 12, 2020.

He is accused of claiming accommodation expenses for staying in Adelaide overnight to carry out his parliamentary duties when he was not actually staying in the city.

Ellis told parliament recently he had suspended his membership of the Liberal Party while under investigation but would vigorously defend the charges.

“I have never acted dishonestly, any error in a claim form completed by a relatively inexperienced member was exactly that, an error,” he said at the time.

Ellis has been sitting on the crossbench in the House of Assembly since the charges against him were filed.

He will return to court on May 25.

-AAP

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