Federal police search MP's office

AUSTRALIAN Federal Police officers have searched the office of Coast MP Peter Slipper as part of an investigation into the alleged misuse of entitlements by a staff member.

Mr Slipper, the Federal Member for Fisher, yesterday declined to comment on the police search except to issue a statement through his spokesman saying AFP officers had seized “certain documents”.

The AFP officers are believed to have executed search warrants on the MP's office early last week.

Mr Slipper, who is currently on a “study trip” in Europe, was briefed by staff.

AN AFP spokesman told the Daily they were first made aware of allegations against Mr Slipper's staff member on June 28 after referral from the Department of Finance and Deregulation.

There was no indication last night whether the person at the centre of the investigation still worked for the MP.

Mr Slipper's spokesman denied the office had been “raided” and said the MP's office had “cooperated fully” with the AFP officers. He said no computers were taken from the office, only documents.

The police search came two weeks into Mr Slipper's controversial 43-day trip to Europe.

While the MP's office has claimed it is a “partly-funded” study tour relating specifically to his role as Deputy Speaker of parliament, there have been claims Speaker Harry Jenkins was unaware where Mr Slipper had gone or any engagements relating to his role as Deputy Speaker.

Through his spokesman, the MP last night said the “study trip” was partly-funded by the government and included “many meetings and briefings with the Australian missions, the House of Commons and the House of Lords” to discuss parliamentary operations. Mr Slipper, who is travelling with his wife, returns to Australia early next month.

“(He) remains in daily contact with his office to discuss all electorate and parliamentary matters,” his spokesman said.

It is understood that an investigation is still ongoing into Mr Slipper's claimed travel entitlements during the second half of 2009.

The investigation by the Department of Finance and Regulation was made public in September. At the time, the Daily reported Mr Slipper's expenditure on domestic air travel, his private vehicle, cab fares, Commonwealth and hire cars, magazines and periodicals was more than $75,000 for the period of July 1 to December 31, 2009.