Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Law Firm and Government Conflicts -- Incidents Touch High-Level Officials in Canada and Australia

Two conflicts stories making news today:

Gillard law firm claims AWU case presented conflict
  • "SLATER & Gordon has confirmed that Julia Gillard [the current Prime Minister of Australia] faced a fundamental conflict of interest when she represented both a crony of her boyfriend and his union as a salaried partner of the firm in the early 1990s."
  • "Slater & Gordon released details of the opinion in response to persistent media questions regarding Ms Gillard's role in giving advice on the incorporation of the now infamous AWU Workplace Reform Association in 1992."
  • "A police investigation later revealed that her then boyfriend, senior AWU official Bruce Wilson, had stolen more than $400,000 from the association - including $100,000 spent towards the purchase of a Fitzroy property."
  • "As a partner and deputy head of Slater & Gordon's industrial department, Ms Gillard represented both the West Australian and Victorian branches of the AWU. But she confirmed on Monday that she had been representing Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt personally when she helped them, for the association, buy the Fitzroy property - and denied she had acted without authority."
  • "In acting for the official the firm had obtained information that was confidential to the official and the disclosure of which to the union would have been a conflict between the interests of the union and the official."
  • "''Slater & Gordon ceased acting for both clients after it became aware of this conflict situation,' the [firm's] statement said."

Alberta premier accused of conflict in tobacco case
  • "Premier Alison Redford, while justice minister, personally chose her ex-husband's law firm for a government tobacco-litigation contract worth potentially tens of millions of dollars in contingency fees, a CBC News investigation has found."
  • "One of Canada’s top experts in conflict of interest says Redford was in a clear conflict and should have not made that decision."
  • "Redford’s former husband is Robert Hawkes, a partner in JSS, who served as her transition team leader after she won the Progressive Conservative Party leadership race in 2011 and ascended to the premier’s office."
  • "CBC News searched public records of political contributions and found JSS, Cuming & Gillespie, and Tim Wade, the lobbyist, gave tens of thousands of dollars to the PC Party, to Redford’s riding, and to her leadership campaign before and after her December 2010 decision to award the tobacco litigation to the consortium."

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