Former WA Liberal MP hired 'sham employee'

Brian Ellis is one of two former Liberals accused by WA's corruption body of misusing allowances.
Brian Ellis is one of two former Liberals accused by WA's corruption body of misusing allowances.

Two more former West Australian Liberal MPs have been accused of serious misconduct in another bombshell report by the state's Corruption and Crime Commission, with one accused of hiring his lover as a "sham employee".

The findings against Brian Ellis and Nigel Hallett, who each served more than a decade in the upper house until 2017, are published in a new report into the misuse of parliamentary electorate allowances.

Criminal charges could follow, with the watchdog revealing it will refer briefs of evidence to prosecutors.

The report says Mr Hallett hired "intimate friend" Bonnie Cornwall as an electorate officer for seven years at a rate of one day per fortnight.

During that period, Ms Cornwall earned almost $64,000 and enjoyed many other perks but there was no evidence she had completed any meaningful work.

"The Commission considers that her employment was a sham, a device enabling Mr Hallett to provide benefits to a person with whom he had an intimate friendship," the CCC said on Thursday.

The report outlined a 2016 visit by Mr Ellis to the Penthouse Club in Northbridge with disgraced former colleague Phil Edman.

Mr Ellis received a nude lap dance from one of the dancers, paid for by Mr Edman out of the MP's electorate allowance.

The report described a photograph of Mr Ellis from that night.

"Mr Ellis is lying on his back with a naked woman astride his lower body. He has his right hand on one of her buttocks," the CCC said.

Shown the photograph, Mr Ellis questioned whether that constituted sexual activity.

It's alleged Mr Edman, Mr Ellis and Mr Hallett had "colluded among themselves" and warned others about the investigation, causing evidence to be lost or destroyed.

The CCC last year revealed Mr Edman had used his electorate allowance for acting as a "sugar daddy" to women he met online, visiting strip clubs and paying speeding fines.

After the CCC raided his premises, Mr Edman got a former MP and a party official to warn various sitting members that a seized laptop - which has since been returned to an upper house committee - contained damaging material.

"It's got everything, all the emails between all of us, Black Hand Gang dinners, it's got the video, there's enough stuff on that f***ing computer to bury f***ing a lot of people," he said to the former MP.

WA's allowances system is set to be overhauled after the March election.

The CCC is embroiled in a bitter dispute with the powerful upper house Procedures and Privileges Committee, which succeeded last year in reclaiming Mr Edman's laptop from investigators on the basis of parliamentary privilege.

According to Thursday's report, Mr Edman received a supportive text message from an unidentified committee member days after the laptop's discovery.

Shooters and Fishers Party MLC Rick Mazza is also named but is not subject to a misconduct finding. It's alleged he joined the other three MPs on a boozy 2016 trip to South Australia funded out of their electorate allowances.

Attorney-General John Quigley said the report had revealed "a sickening and shocking level of corruption" within the Liberal party.

He called upon newly-elected opposition leader Zak Kirkup to reveal the identities of other Liberal MPs mentioned in the report.

Mr Kirkup said he had "no idea" who those MPs were.

"The Liberal party does not and will never protect corruption that exists within Western Australia," he said, adding that he would support Mr Edman's laptop being returned to the CCC.

Australian Associated Press