17 December 2015
by Lucille Keen

HSUs Kathy Jackson loses appeal over $1.4 million union scam

Kathy Jackson

Disgraced former union leader Kathy Jackson could now face criminal charges after losing her appeal against a civil judgement which found she had misused $1.4 million of members funds.

Federal Court Full bench Justices Christopher Jessup, John Griffiths and Richard White rejected the former national secretary of the Health Services Union's appeal of the decision by Justice Richard Tracey that found she had misused union funds and ordered her to repay $1.4 million to her former employer.

She was found to have used union money to fund an overseas trips, shopping sprees and her divorce settlement.

Ms Jackson appeared before the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption last year and is expected to face criminal proceedings, with the joint Victoria and Federal Police taskforce investigating her for fraud and theft.

The royal commission is reliant on Justice Tracey's judgment and now the civil case has been settled it is likely criminal proceedings will begin.

In October Ms Jackson filed two appeals arguing the primary judge should not have allowed the case against her to proceed and that Labor leaders, including Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, were working against her.

The full bench rejected the claim that Justice Tracey's adverse findings affected Ms Jackson's personal reputation.

They said her notices of appeal did not particularise any individual findings of fact made by Justice Tracey which impugn her personal reputation.

In November, Ms Jackson failed to appear at the Federal Court hearing in Melbourne, claiming she was too ill and needed more time to lodge appeal documents. This is despite saying she wanted to represent herself.

The union fought the move to have the appeal adjourned and said Ms Jackson was continuing to cost the HSU thousands of dollars in legal fees.

The union is unlikely to receive any of the compensation, Ms Jackson filed for bankruptcy just days before the trial began in June.

Ms Jackson did not respond to requests for comment. In October she and her partner Michael Lawler, a deputy president of the Faor Work Commission, were filmed by ABC television discussing the appeal in an episode of Four Corners in which they maintained she was the victim of a conspiracy.