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Blackmail accused former MP says no case

A former South Australian Labor MP charged with blackmail will argue the evidence against her is incapable of supporting a conviction and relies on secretly taped private conversations.

Annabel Digance, 63, has applied to Adelaide Magistrates Court to have the case against her thrown out as an abuse of process.

She has also applied to cross-examine a number of witnesses including Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas, the alleged victim of the blackmail charge.

In documents released by the court on Monday, Ms Digance argues there is no case to answer and the allegations against her are “totally unfounded”.

“The taint of abuse of process permeates throughout the entire investigation and prosecution process,” the application said.

It said the case against her relied on recordings of private conversations that sought to entrap her and her husband Greg Digance, 60, who is facing the same charge, in the commission of an offence.

That attempted entrapment should lead to a stay of the proceedings, the defence argued.

Ms Digance and her husband were arrested in April at their Strathalbyn home, south of Adelaide.

Police said previously it would be alleged the accused were involved in a common enterprise to obtain a personal gain by threatening to make allegations of misconduct by Mr Malinauskas.

It was understood that benefit involved Ms Digance being placed in a winnable spot on the Legislative Council ticket or being preselected for a safe Labor seat prior to the next state election in March 2022.

In her application before the court, Ms Digance said if any threats were made they fell within the so-called “political exception” to blackmail laws which protected “negotiations” to secure a political advantage.

Ms Digance noted that almost a year passed between when the alleged offences occurred and when she and her husband were arrested, arguing the timing was designed to stymie a parliamentary inquiry into bullying and intimidation in the Labor Party.

She was also critical of police conduct during her arrest, including a direction for her to “duck” when she arrived at court in a police vehicle that was surrounded by TV cameras and journalists.

Ms Digance said she instinctively did as she was instructed which “portrayed her in the public mind as a person guilty of a criminal offence”.

Ms Digance previously served in the SA parliament as the lower house member for Elder from 2014 to 2018, but lost her seat to the Liberals in the 2018 state election.

Her application to cross-examine Mr Malinauskas and her no case to answer submissions will be considered later this month.

Prosecutors have indicated they will oppose both applications.

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