On Thursday, Hege Haukeland Liadal’s lawyer, Erik Lea, prosecuted in Oslo District Court. He believes the court can sentence Liadal to a maximum of receiving NOK 52,000 too much – if she can be convicted at all.
Until now, lawyer Erik Lea, who represents former parliamentary representative Hege Haukeland Liadal, has been cautious in speaking to the media. But on Thursday it was his turn to prosecute in Oslo District Court.
Attorney Lea started by casting doubt on the evidence in the case in general, before going into the individual travel expenses.
Prosecutors believe Liadal should receive nine months in prison for gross fraud. For several weeks, the prosecution has presented information from printouts from back accounts, toll passes and calendars.
Lawyer Lea believes this says little for sure about where Liadal has actually been traveling.
– It’s not DNA we are dealing with here. There is no communication control with wiretapping of mobile phones. We do not have printing base stations for mobile, Lea said.
Raised doubts about the prosecution’s local knowledge
Liadal has chosen a locally known lawyer. Mainland Karmøy, Fosen, Røyksund, Kolnes, Vormedal, Skjoldastraumen, Nedstrand. Lea listed a number of local place names when he tackled the prosecution’s understanding of itineraries on Haugalandet.
The evidence that is used as a basis for who drove cars where and when, does not meet the evidence requirement, he believes.
– It will all be tipping, said Lea.
The lawyer believes, for example, that the prosecution is wrong when they have pointed out that Liadal has not been traveling, as a result of her not passing toll booths.
He had two main objections:
- It is entirely possible to drive toll-free out of Haugesund. If you are campaigning and handing out mailbox materials or meeting people, you should not just drive the main road E124.
- The times Liadal has passed toll stations with a relatively short period of time, the journey may in reality have lasted longer. It is not known if Liadal drove from place to place in the city, until she drove out of the city and passed a toll booth. Therefore, Liadal’s travels may have lasted for more than 6 hours and she may have been entitled to the diet the prosecution believes she was not entitled to.
– It sounds to the prosecution that Haugesund is a small dot where you can not drive around without bumping into a toll station, Lea said.
Not bad advice
The lawyer again denied that Liadal and the man had bad advice – and thus he denies that there is any financial motive. Liadal herself said earlier in the case that she is better at creating a national budget than a household budget.
Lea believes that the couple has had good finances and that one can not emphasize that they have had few savings.
The fact that no bank cards have been used for the trips does not prove that the trips have not taken place, Lea believes. It is possible to make a packed lunch and coffee for a thermos, rather than stopping at a petrol station and eating sausage in wholemeal bread, Lea said.
He also pointed out that the couple has withdrawn cash many times in the years 2013 to 2019.
– And this with bank cards. Makan. If it has not been deducted from the card, it does not mean she has not been there. You can pay with cash. Now it sounds like cash is like drugs, but people have cash.
The prosecution believes that Liadal, in addition to imprisonment, must repay 117,000 kroner plus legal costs of 300,000. Wednesday wrote TV2 that Liadal has applied to the Storting for severance pay for one year, after she has now finished as a representative. Thus, she can get almost 1 million kroner from the Storting next year.
Submit a new calculation: NOK 52,000
One month ago, the Storting’s director, Marianne Andreassen, appeared as a witness in court. Then reference was made to the rules from the Storting.
The rules say that The Storting does not cover travel to board positions, councils and committees, except when the position is related to being elected to the Storting. Lea pointed out that the director could not provide examples of boards that fell outside the provision.
But lawyer Lea believes, among other things based on testimony in court, that it is obvious that the trips Liadal has had as a board member of Rutebåten Utsira AS is such a position. The Storting must therefore cover this, he believes.
The court started with Liadal’s travel expenses. Liadal believes that board positions can be linked to the position of elected representative.
On the basis of this and other circumstances the lawyer believes can not be proven, he has calculated a new sum. He believes the 125,000 kroner the prosecution has assumed that Liadal has received too much, will be reduced to 52,000 kroner. The lawyer emphasizes that this does not mean that Liadal has received 52,000 too much.
– But if the court chooses to judge her, then this sum is a maximum amount, Lea said.
Beyond Thursday, Liadal’s defenders will take a closer look at the various positions Liadal is charged with.