Former MP in court on blackmail charge

Annabel Digance and her husband allegedly tried to blackmail SA Labor leader Peter Malinauskas.
Annabel Digance and her husband allegedly tried to blackmail SA Labor leader Peter Malinauskas.

A former South Australian Labor MP and her businessman husband will answer blackmail charges against them in August.

Annabel Digance, 63, and her husband Greg Digance, 60, appeared for a second time in Adelaide Magistrates Court on Tuesday where prosecutors said the charges against them would proceed.

The pair were arrested in April at their Strathalbyn home, south of Adelaide, over allegations they tried to blackmail SA Labor leader Peter Malinauskas.

They made no comment during the brief court appearance with magistrate Simon Smart setting down August 10 as the date to enter pleas.

Their bail was continued, which includes conditions they have no contact with Mr Malinauskas, and cash sureties lodged with the court.

Details of the allegations against Ms Digance and her husband have not been disclosed in court but police said it would be alleged the accused were involved in a common enterprise to obtain a personal gain by threatening to make allegations of alleged 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.

"It is important to be clear that the allegations did not relate to any form of criminal behaviour by Mr Malinauskas," police said in a statement.

"He is not being investigated by SAPOL for any criminal offence and is not suspected of any criminal offence."

The opposition leader first approached police in February last year.

He said he never thought he would find himself involved in such circumstances and reported the matter because it was the "right thing to do".

"It is absolutely critical that every South Australian can have confidence in the integrity of the democratic process," he said after the arrests.

"That they can have confidence that their members of parliament fulfil their very clear obligations under the law to not look the other way when someone does the wrong thing, to not sweep matters under the carpet."

Mr Malinauskas said he was not in a position to comment on the particulars of allegations but said he witnessed behaviour that he regarded as inappropriate and potentially unlawful.

Ms Digance previously served in the SA parliament as the lower house member for Elder from 2014 to 2018.

She lost her seat to the Liberals in the 2018 poll.

Australian Associated Press