Foster to plead guilty

Former councillor Richard Foster is to plead guilty to electoral fraud charges relating to the 2016 City of Melbourne election.

On February 20, Mr Foster successfully sought a further adjournment of his case until April 19.

The Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate alleges that Mr Foster aided, abetted, counseled or procured the unlawful nomination of candidate Brooke Wandin before the election.

Ms Wandin was last year granted a diversion order without conviction for her role in the matter, a fact which led Mr Foster’s lawyer James Catlin to suggest a similar outcome for his client.

Before magistrate Julie Grainger on February 20, Mr Catlin said it was an “abuse” that Mr Foster had been relentlessly pursued and had not been also offered a diversion.

He pointed out that Mr Foster was a “clean-skin” and the “accomplice” in the matter and questioned the prosecution’s objectivity in relation to his client.

Magistrate Grainger rejected Mr Catlin’s request that the matter be adjourned so it could heard by the same magistrate who granted Ms Wandin’s diversion.

Mr Catlin then requested an adjournment as he was not ready to proceed as he had been “doing other things” – a situation he admitted was “trite”.

He said he was yet to compile “further references” as well as a list of media reports about Mr Foster.

Mr Catlin said Mr Foster had already been “quite severely punished” by “crippling media reports” about his role in the matter.

He said Mr Foster had been portrayed in the media as “some sort of Svengali” who had guided 37-year-old, community leader Brooke Wandin to sign her name under a false address.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Ruddle opposed the adjournment.

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