An explosive political scandal brewing across the Tasman has a growing number of New Zealand links - a Wellington-born politician, a Kiwi prostitute and a former Auckland restaurateur.

Former Australian Labor Party MP Craig Thomson - now an independent - is accused of using his Health Services Union credit card to pay for thousands of dollars in sex services between 2002 and 2007.

Thomson, 47, denies he spent $500,000 of union funds improperly and claims a bizarre conspiracy involving brothels using his credit card details to make charges to his account without his permission or knowledge.

The Australian Channel 9 show A Current Affair says it has secured an interview with a retired sex worker, now in her 30s, who alleges she slept with Thomson.


The prostitute, originally from New Zealand, has reportedly been paid $77,664 to spill the beans and has been moved out of Australia to keep her away from journalists from competing media outlets.

A one-time Auckland restaurateur is also tangled up in the scandal.

Graeme Edwards owned Mission Bay's now-defunct Mexican restaurant El Centro until 2010.

It was reported that year that Edwards had skipped the country owing thousands of dollars, including a court-ordered $15,000 for sexually harassing an employee. His 5 Series BMW, which was purchased on finance, was found abandoned at Auckland International Airport.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled Edwards had sexually harassed his front-of-house manager at El Centro. He had sacked the man, aged 25, after discriminating against him because he was gay.

In the three weeks the man worked for Edwards, he often referred to him as a "f***ing faggot" and told others present "not to bend over" around him.

But it was his line of work before serving burritos which cast him into the headlines this week.

Prior to living in Auckland, Edwards operated Sydney's Boardroom Escort Agency, a trusted and favourite for the rich and influential requiring discretion.

It has been alleged Thomson, a father of 3-year-old twin daughters, was using Boardroom Escort Agency to rent prostitutes. And the New Zealand-born sex worker whose interview will screen tomorrow night, reportedly worked for Edwards' brothel.

One of the transactions on Thomson's union credit card was for $770 in May 2005 at Immobiliaire, a company believed to be a cover for Boardroom Escort Agency.

Company office records in New Zealand and Australia show Edwards is a director of Immobiliaire.

Since Edwards' Mission Bay restaurant closed, leaving a string of unhappy staff and creditors, he has relocated to America.

Asked whether he could recall Thomson visiting his brothel, Melbourne-born Edwards said: "How much is it worth?"

His Auckland accountant, Duncan Barr, said he remembered Edwards "bragging" about some of the clients who visited his Sydney brothel.

"He loved to tell stories and he told me about how he had politicians who were clients," said Barr.