Australian party leader jailed for fraud is freed

Former right wing political leader Pauline Hanson has won her release from prison with a court ruling in Brisbane today overturning a fraud conviction and three-year jail sentence imposed in August.

Former right wing political leader Pauline Hanson has won her release from prison with a court ruling in Brisbane today overturning a fraud conviction and three-year jail sentence imposed in August.

The former leader of the right wing One Nation Party later emerged from jail flanked by her two sons, saying the experience had undermined her confidence in the legal system.

“It’s been a very daunting, distressing time, I can never explain what it’s done to me. In so many ways I’ve learnt very much from it and I need to still learn from it,” Hanson told reporters as she choked back tears.

Asked if she wanted to re-enter politics, Hanson said ”that’s the furthest thing from my mind.”

Hanson, 49, was jailed for three years on August 20 after being convicted of illegally registering One Nation in Queensland state in 1997 and then fraudulently claiming €292,000 in electoral funding to campaign for a state poll in 1998.

Prosecutors had claimed that a list of 500 names used by Hanson to register her party were not members of One Nation, but of a support group, and did not have the same voting rights as members of a political party.

Chief Justice Paul de Jersey said Thursday the evidence available to him suggested that the 500 were “members of the political party and the support movement”.

“It would be unsafe to allow the convictions to stand in these circumstances … the appellants will at once be released and subject to no retrial.”

The panel of three Court of Appeal judges unanimously overturned Hanson’s conviction and also the conviction on the same charges of One Nation co-founder, David Ettridge.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox