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Key Labor figures could be called in Digance blackmail case

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Former Labor MP Annabel Digance and her husband Greg want longstanding ALP state secretary Reggie Martin and a lead detective to take the stand – as well as Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas – if blackmail charges against the couple proceed in court.

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The Adelaide Magistrates Court today heard the Digances are persisting with their push to have the charges thrown out, insisting they have no case to answer.

But if the matter proceeds, they want Malinauskas, Martin and the lead detective on the case to be called for cross-examination.

Digance and her husband Greg were arrested in April, accused of attempting to blackmail Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas.

Charges submitted to the Adelaide Magistrates Court by police at the time alleged that between February 12 and March 28 last year the couple “menaced” Malinauskas “intending to get him to submit to a demand”.

That alleged demand relates to a bid to revive Annabel Digance’s stalled political career, which ended when she lost the southern suburbs seat of Elder to Liberal Carolyn Power at the 2018 state election.

The Digances were arrested shortly after Annabel went public with claims she had objected to a “racist” Labor flyer distributed as part of her campaign for Elder in 2014, saying she had been silenced by party officials.

Her claims prompted the Marshall Government to successfully move for a parliamentary inquiry into “claims of bullying and harassment within the State Labor Party”, but the committee was blocked after crossbench MPs determined it should not proceed with the blackmail matter before the courts.

At the last court hearing in October, barrister Robert Cameron, for Annabel, told the court “in our respectful submission there is no case to answer”.

“This prosecution instigated by Mr Malinauskas is a malicious prosecution,” he said.

“It’s a collateral abuse of process, in that it seeks to shut down a select committee hearing of this parliament that was voted on in March this year.”

He said he would be “submitting special reasons why Mr Malinauskas should be ordered to attend court” for cross-examination.

Today he told the court Martin and the lead detective on the case should also be called to give evidence and said he had filed reasons why with the court.

Prosecutors told the court they believe there is a case to answer but they’re opposed to Malinauskas and Martin being called as witnesses, saying they could provide a written statement instead.

The case was adjourned until November 18 to hear arguments about whether they should be compelled to take the stand.

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