Former Labor staffer Costas Socratous (photo) has called for a formal investigation into his allegations that he was engaged in branch-stacking on behalf of MPs Theo Theophanous and Telmo Languiller.
He also claims that Mr Theophanous and Mr Languiller have been running a smear campaign against him since mid-2009, calling into question his mental stability. Mr Socratous turned whistleblower last week when he alleged that Theo Theophanous masterminded extensive branch stacking in the ALP’s Albion and East Ardeer branches.
Mr Socratous told, “I was given money to pay for memberships and renewals of people that I know. I would approach them to become members and tell them not to worry about memberships, that they would be fixed by another way.” Mr Socratous said that he had been “targeted” by Mr Theophanous and Mr Languiller since being sacked last year.
“I have been pressured by these people,” said Mr Socratous said. “They have been harassing me in the media and everywhere.”
“I warned them that I would be coming out if they keep on harassing me.”
“They did not want to hear me, that is why we are where we are now,” he said.
“At the beginning I asked for an apology from Theo and Telmo and instead they sent me a letter telling me that under parliamentary order not me, nor anyone that represented me could speak to the media to offend them,” said Mr Socratous.
“On the other hand they let Theo loose making speeches humiliating me in parliament.”
One of the accusations made under parliamentary privilege was that Mr Socratous has a gambling habit, an accusation that Mr Socratous has denied.
In response to accusations that he is being groomed by the Liberal Opposition Mr Socratous said, “I went to the Liberals just for one thing, to make sure that they pressure them [the State Government] to call for an investigation.”
He alleged that in 2004 and 2005 when he and Telmo Languiller faced an ALP tribunal on claims of branch-stacking, that the ALP, “covered everything up and I don’t want this to happen again.” “The party covered everything up. After that I never made any new members, I just renewed existing members” said Mr Socratous.
Mr Theophanous has denied the allegations that he was the mastermind of the branch-stacking operation. He confirmed to Neos Kosmos that he was responsible for the distribution of funds to assist ALP members get re-elected, but denied any involvement in branch-stacking. “I was never in the position to know how the money was used.”
“If the money allocated to Mr Languiller’s seat of Derrimut was used improperly then its Mr Socratous’ responsibility,” Mr Theophanous told.
Mr Theophanous said that his lawyers have written to Mr Socratous, warning he will sue for defamation unless Mr Socratous unconditionally withdraws the branch-stacking allegations.
Mr Socratous says neither he nor his lawyers have received any such letter. “My lawyer has not received anything, but I am not worried because I know what I am saying and I have the facts,” said Mr Socratous.
It has been reported that Mr Languiller had gone to the police making allegations against Mr Socratous.
Speaking to Neos Kosmos from outside Sunshine police station, Mr Socratous said his own inquiries to police had revealed no such allegations.
Mr Socratous has also denied allegations by Mr Languiller that he sought compensation for stress.
(source: neos kosmos)