Andrew Landeryou. Photo: Arsineh Houspian Kimberley Kitching. Photo: Andrew Meares
A close friend of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will face court on 10 criminal charges after an alleged politically motivated vandalism spree on the morning of the federal election.
Andrew Landeryou and two other factional allies of Mr Shorten will appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on February 15 on five charges of theft and five of criminal damage.
Mr Landeryou, an ex-bankrupt and notorious former blogger, is the son of a former state Labor MP and is married to new Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching.
Both Senator Kitching and Mr Landeryou are close friends and political allies of Mr Shorten.The Opposition Leader in October controversially backed Ms Kitching in her successful bid to replace Stephen Conroy in the Senate.
Also facing five charges of theft and five of criminal damage is David Asmar, an alleged Labor branch stacker, who has long-standing factional links to Mr Shorten.
The other man charged is Dean Sherriff, who has worked as an industrial officer at the scandal-plagued Health Workers Union (HWU), which is run by Mr Asmar’s wife, Diana. Mr Sherriff has been charged with assault along with five counts of theft and five of criminal damage.
Being found guilty of theft or criminal damage can result in penalties including being jailed or fined, or community-based orders.
The criminal charges will draw further attention to the operation of Mr Shorten’s Labor Right faction in Victoria, which is regularly linked to scams and the rorting of internal Labor Party processes.
Fairfax Media in July revealed that four men had been arrested without charge while helping on the marginal seat campaign of the Labor MP for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, a Shorten ally.
They were arrested for allegedly vandalising Greens and Liberal polling material at multiple polling stations from Elwood to Port Melbourne. The men were arrested at 2.40am in St Kilda on the morning of the July 2 election and police said box cutters were seized from the car they were travelling in.
At the time Mr Shorten said the book should be thrown at people involved in political vandalism.
“I think anyone in an election who is conducting vandalism deserves to have the book thrown at them. In terms of that investigation [into Melbourne Ports], I haven’t been following it, I have no knowledge of the particular events,” he said.
“I just say to everyone, democracy doesn’t need these sort of antics, full stop. I’ve got no time for it – Liberal, Labor, Green, National, whoever they are.”
The criminal charges will also draw fresh attention to Senator Kitching, who has become a target of the Turnbull government.
Mr Turnbull has described her appointment as a “union stitch-up” while frontbencher Christopher Pyne described her as Mr Shorten’s “captain’s pick” and attacked her for her alleged role in a workplace permit scam while at the HWU.
Ms Kitching was general manager at the HWU when it was run to the brink of insolvency. During her time at the union she was also a central figure in a workplace permit scam and was heavily criticised by the Fair Work Commission for giving “inherently unlikely” evidence.
An interim report of the Heydon royal commission recommended Ms Kitching be considered for possible criminal charges. She has not been charged.
Her elevation to the Senate also caused unrest within Labor with frontbencher Mark Dreyfus reportedly threatening to resign if she was appointed.
For years Mr Landeryou ran a scandalous and often defamatory blog that regularly targeted political opponents of Mr Shorten and journalists. It stopped publishing in 2013.
Mr Asmar fled to Lebanon in 2015 shortly after being told he would have to appear before the Heydon royal commission. He avoided questioning after saying he was sick and obtaining a medical certificate. He has since returned to .
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