PETER Gordon, the lawyer who investigated Julia Gillard's conduct during a union funds scandal almost two decades ago, says he found ''no explicit or indirect evidence that she was involved in any wrongdoing'' then - and this remains his view today.
Mr Gordon, the former senior partner of the law firm Slater & Gordon, said yesterday he found nothing in his investigation which contradicted Julia Gillard's explanation of what had taken place - and her role in it.
One of Melbourne's best-known lawyers, Mr Gordon released a detailed statement yesterday after his former partner at Slater & Gordon, Nick Styant-Browne, released to The Australian without his knowledge a draft statement he had penned dealing with Ms Gillard's departure from the law firm in 1995.
The resignation came after Mr Gordon's probe into legal work she had done for a union boss accused of corruption who was her partner at the time.
Mr Gordon said he had agreed with Mr Styant-Browne, a friend of 20 years' standing who is now working in the US, to collate material after the issue resurfaced this month when Ralph Blewitt, the alleged union ''bagman'' at the centre of the scandal, announced that he was seeking immunity from criminal prosecution in return for breaking his silence.
With former Australian Workers' Union official and Ms Gillard's former boyfriend, Bruce Wilson, Mr Blewitt is alleged to have used a legal entity that Ms Gillard began to establish while at Slater & Gordon to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from large companies.
Mr Gordon said while he and Mr Styant-Browne had not decided whether they would release a statement on the circumstances surrounding Ms Gillard's departure, he sent an initial draft to Mr Styant-Browne last week - ''which was clearly intended for discussion purposes and which was obviously a confidential communication''.
''Early this morning, I discovered that Nick had apparently provided a copy of that unchecked, privileged and confidential first-draft communication to The Australian newspaper. This was done without my knowledge or consent.
''I am, to say the very least, extremely disappointed that this has occurred; not least because a first draft is just that, and it is unfair to represent it on the front page of a national newspaper as my statement.''
Notwithstanding his dismay, Mr Gordon makes it plain in his prepared statement that the key points of the draft were accurate, including the conclusion that there was ''no evidence which explicitly … even indirectly controverted the explanation Ms Gillard made at the time''.
While it seems clear that Ms Gillard was disappointed that her explanation of what occurred was not immediately accepted by Mr Gordon, and that this damaged their relationship for some years, it is understood Mr Gordon has no regrets over his handling of the review.
In his prepared statement, Mr Gordon says it is relevant that the issue arose in the immediate aftermath of another case which had strained relations between the industrial department of the firm and the rest of the partners.
''Ms Gillard's previous public statement that after these events 'working there wasn't as much fun, to be honest' can hardly be doubted in the circumstances,'' he wrote.
Michael Gordon is national editor.