Defamation case funding questioned

Western metro MP Moira Deeming.

Liam McNally

Victorian opposition leader John Pesutto has answered calls to release funding details of his upcoming court case against former Liberal MP Moira Deeming, pledging to do so in the coming week.

Mr Pessutto is embroiled in a defamation case with the former Melton councillor after she was expelled from the parliamentary Liberal Party after taking part in a rally in March that was gate-crashed by a group of masked men who performed Nazi salutes.

Mrs Deeming issued several defamation concern notices to Mr Pesutto, alleging he publicly accused her of being a Nazi sympathiser and used the claim to bully and threaten her with expulsion.

Mr Pesutto denies he accused the now-independent MP of being a Nazi or having Nazi sympathies.

When the defamation action was launched, Mrs Deeming and Mr Pesutto committed not to use party funds to prop up their legal cases, with Mr Pesutto saying he will pay his legal costs if he must.

Last week it was reported that several people, including former premiers Jeff Kennett, Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine, have already made donations towards Mr Pesutto’s legal defence.

Labor was quick to call on Mr Pesutto to release the full funding details for his case, including Leader of the House Mary-Anne Thomas.

“Mr Pesutto has shown once again that he cannot be trusted – he must immediately come clean with Victorians and explain why his million dollar legal defence, funded by private donors, is not a significant conflict of interest?” she said.

On Monday, February 19 Mr Pesutto said he intends to make all contributions to his case public by releasing them to the register of interest.

“I think that’s next week… it will be made publicly available,” he said.

“I’m not applying any threshold, any contribution will be included, no matter how small.”

When questioned on if he believes Ms Deeming should release funding sources for her legal fees he said “that’s a matter for her”.

Moira Deeming was contacted for comment.