Former Labor MP Annabel Digance and husband accused of blackmail have given permission to travel on the interstate

A former Labor MP and his wife accused of blackmailing the South Australian Premier have been granted permission to travel on the interstate less than a year after a magistrate returned the request.

Annabel and Greg Digance have been accused of blackmailing Peter Malinauskas for political advantage in 2020, allegedly threatening to publicize allegations of misconduct.

The Strathalbyn couple pleaded not guilty and will face trial in District Court next year.

Their lawyers unsuccessfully sought to clear the case last year, arguing that no case would be answered because the law did not include negotiations to obtain political benefits.

The couple was arrested in April last year, and released on bail on the condition that they had no contact with Mr Malinauskas and had not traveled out of state.

Mr and Mrs Digance have now applied to District Court to change their bail conditions to travel the interstate for work and to visit family.

Chief Judge Michael Evans allowed variation, on condition that the couple notify the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in writing before leaving the state on each occasion about where they were going and how long they would be leaving.

They will still need to report in person to the Mount Barker police station within 48 hours of their return.

The prosecution did not object to the variation in those conditions.

Call for more relaxed conditions

But Mr Digance-who is representing himself-asked Chief Judge Evans if he could just email the DPP that he was back in South Australia, instead of going to the police station.

“Mount Barker is 25 kilometers away,” Mr Digance told the court.

But the prosecutor in court said this was the “standard course” defendants reported at a police station, and it should have been a condition.

“I think that makes sense, Mr Digance,” Chief Judge Evans said.

“It is an unusual condition to allow you to leave the state; the only condition is that you email the DPP before you leave, tell them how long you are leaving, when you are leaving, when you are returning and where you are going. and just report it to the police station. “

The guarantor for the bail agreement of Mr and Mrs Digance must agree and sign the change of bail before the couple is allowed to travel.

New SA Ministers outside the Government House
Annabel Digance (second from right) with current Premier Peter Malinauskas (left) when they were made ministers in 2017.(ABC News: Dean Faulkner)

Last year, Chief Justice Mary-Louise Hribal denied a similar request.

Adelaide Magistrates Court then heard Mr Digance who owns and operates a hydraulics company and was “disgusted” to go to court whenever he had to travel the interstate for business.

At the time, Queensland, NSW and Victoria – where Mr Digance sought to travel – were experiencing lockdowns.

The court also heard that Ms Digance needed to travel with her husband because she also worked for the company.

Judge Hribal returned the application last year to travel freely on the interstate because of the nature of the charges and it was not “heavy” to seek permission through the court.

The couple will stand trial in May next year.

Outside the court, Ms Digance thanked journalists for their interest in the case, but said she had nothing to say.

Digances received 1,359 votes in the state election in March, defeating only one ungrouped candidate.