Charges dropped against ex-Labor MP accused of blackmailing Malinauskas

Blackmail charges against former Labor MP Annabel Digance and her husband Greg Digance have been dropped following a court appearance today.

Apr 21, 2023, updated Apr 21, 2023
The Digances leave the Adelaide Magistrates Court after an appearance in August 2021. Photo: Morgan Sette / AAP

The Digances leave the Adelaide Magistrates Court after an appearance in August 2021. Photo: Morgan Sette / AAP

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions confirmed this afternoon that the matter was resolved and charges had been dropped after a District Court hearing today, ahead of a scheduled trial beginning next month.

The pair were arrested at their home in April 2021 and accused of attempting to blackmail then state Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas.

Annabel Digance held the state seat of Elder for a term before losing it at the 2018 election.

She and her husband Greg faced charges of “menacing” Malinauskas in 2020, “to get him to submit to a demand” that the former MP be preselected for another winnable seat.

The Digances pleaded not guilty in a District Court arraignment. Their defence submitted that they had no case to answer and that the charges were “malicious” and an “abuse of process”.

Premier Malinauskas held a press conference on the matter a short time ago.

“Can I start by saying I’m grateful for the work of the SA police and the office of the DPP, I’m particularly relieved this matter has now been resolved,” he said.

“It hasn’t been a particularly enjoyable experience but now there is an outcome that I very much welcome I hope that South Australians can be confident around our democratic system.”

Malinauskas said that he understood the court “has put an intervention order in place to ensure that I won’t be able to be contacted again by Mr and Mrs Digance”.

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“Should a trial have gone ahead I would have participated in it willingly, I made that known, but that wasn’t necessarily my preference.

“If there is anything, it has been an insight into how lengthy the criminal justice process can be.”

Asked if there was sufficient evidence to take the case to trial, Malinauskas said: “There was sufficient evidence to charge and I think everything was on track for a trial until this recent development, which is one that I welcome.”

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