Former Labor MP Annabel Digance is seen at TAFE SA in Adelaide, March 11, 2018. (AAP Image/David Mariuz)
A former South Australian (SA) Labor MP and her husband have been arrested for allegedly blackmailing state Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas.
Annabel Digance, 63, and her husband Greg Digance, 60, appeared before the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Wednesday and were released on bail, to appear before the court on June 15.
Their bail conditions include that they have no contact with Malinauskas through any means, surrender their passports and that they each lodge a $5000 surety with the court in cash.
The SA Police (SAPOL) alleged in a statement that the couple had sought to obtain personal gain by threatening to make allegations of misconduct by Malinauskas.
“It is important to be clear that the allegations did not relate to any form of criminal behaviour by Mr. Malinauskas,” the statement reads. “Mr. Malinauskas is simply the victim of an alleged blackmail and the details of the allegation will be presented and tested through the prosecution and judicial process.”
“Mr. Malinauskas firstly approached SAPOL in Feb. 2020 and the investigation has been ongoing since then—culminating in today’s arrests.”
Malinauskas said he was not in a position to comment on the case as it was now before the court.
“Early last year, I witnessed conduct that I thought was inappropriate and potentially unlawful, which is exactly why I immediately sought legal advice, and then subsequently reported that matter to South Australian police,” he said.
Digance served as a member of parliament for the seat of Elder from 2014 to 2018 and is now an associate professor at Flinders University and an active user on Twitter.
On March 28, she posted on Twitter: “Politicians must demonstrate integrity & leadership.”
The post followed accusations that the Labor party had used “racist” election flyers during the 2014 election campaign.
The flyers targeted her opponent, Carolyn Habib, and asked readers “Can you trust Habib?” Critics say it was a smear campaign for Habib’s surname.
Digance blamed the party for the flyers and claimed she had been threatened by the party into silence.
…@alpsa ‘apology under pressure’…that’s one done! Politicians must demonstrate integrity & leadership – not the same old gene pool of group think entitled patronising boys club! @SALibMedia #EnoughIsEnough #March4Justice https://t.co/2KimYdS5nd
— Assoc Prof Annabel Digance (@AnnabelDigance) March 27, 2021
AAP contributed to this report.