Qld mayor, councillors charged by CCC

Suspended Logan mayor Luke Smith and seven councillors have been charged by the CCC.
Suspended Logan mayor Luke Smith and seven councillors have been charged by the CCC.

A suspended Queensland mayor and seven current councillors have been hit with criminal charges for allegedly pushing a top executive out of her job.

The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) on Friday charged suspended Logan mayor Luke Smith and the councillors with one count each of fraud.

The councillors are Russell Lutton, Phil Pidgeon, Stephen Swenson, Laurie Smith, Jennie Breene, Cherie Dalley and Trevina Schwartz.

"The CCC will allege they dishonestly caused a detriment, namely the dismissal of employment of the former CEO Sharon Kelsey," CCC Chairperson Alan MacSporran QC told reporters.

The value of the fraud is at least $100,000 and carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.

Mr Smith was also charged with two counts of misconduct in relation to public office for allegedly starting a dishonest probation process for Ms Kelsey and interfering in the recruitment process of another person.

"In both of those cases he (allegedly) misused his office to achieve a result to benefit an employee and cause detriment to another," Mr MacSporran said.

Each charge carries a maximum seven-year penalty.

All eight were charged by the CCC on Friday and granted bail to appear in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court in May.

Ms Kelsey was sacked last year after just seven months in the job, when a majority of councillors, but not Mr Smith, voted against extending her contract.

But she was soon reinstated after the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission found there was no evidence she was terminated because of misconduct.

Ms Kelsey had cooperated with the CCC's Operation Belcarra, which delved into corruption allegations against several councils including Logan.

Mr Smith is already facing charges of official corruption, failing to correct his council register of interests and two counts of perjury.

The councillors will be automatically suspended from their roles once charges are laid.

Mr MacSporran said he will brief Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, who will consider if further action should be taken.

Australian Associated Press