Oz court grants 'spousal privilege' right to businessman's wife to avoid cross-examination

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Canberra, July 19 (ANI): An Australian federal court has granted the 'spousal privilege' right to avoid cross examination by the Crime Commission, to the wife of a Gold Coast businessman accused of running a tax avoidance scheme through international business interests including mining, lingerie and racehorses, about her husband's alleged activities.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Louise Stoddart won the rights last week after she claimed for it saying that as his wife she would be entitled to claim 'spousal privilege,' which guarantees the right to a married person not to incriminate his or her partner.

Justice John Logan has said that the purpose of spousal privilege is to recognise the value of marriage and the likelihood of perjury.

"It is one thing to require a person to incriminate him or herself before an examiner with the benefit after objection of use immunity. It is quite another to require one spouse to incriminate the other. The impact that this type of compulsion may have on a marriage needs no elaboration," he said.

In April 2009, Stoddart was called before the Crime Commission, where she refused to answer questions related to her husband's accounting firm, AS Accounting and the alleged alleged tax fraud case.

Her husband, Ewan Alisdair James Stoddart, who bankrupt at that point in time was under investigation in three countries, and had been fined in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for failing to co-operate with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission five years back.

In 2007, the High Court of the Solomon Islands, where he owns a company named Pacrim Resources, rejected his mining license calling him 'untruthful'.

"Stoddart had been shown to be an untruthful witness in earlier court proceedings in Australia," the Solomon Islands' high court said then.

The Jamaican-born director, or former director, owns more than 40 companies including mining and a Gold Coast college. In 2010, he spent more than 70,000 dollars on six racehorses. (ANI)

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