Scaffidi cries at Perth tribunal hearing

Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has cried at a hearing to determine a penalty for her (file).Embattled Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has cried during a tribunal penalty hearing, describing her long-running expenses saga as the “worst experience of my life”.

Ms Scaffidi was giving evidence at the State Administrative Tribunal on Tuesday when she choked up describing the past few years, including dealing with the legal battle and media attention.

“It’s been a very emotional ride,” she said.

It prompted a brief break in proceedings, but it is not the first time Ms Scaffidi has become emotional while testifying.

Ms Scaffidi returned to work in January following a four-month absence, having successfully challenged her 18-month disqualification for failing to disclose third-party-funded travel and gifts.

The tribunal had found she breached the Local Government Act 45 times, but the WA Court of Appeal overturned 26 adverse findings, leaving 19 breaches for which she is yet to be re-penalised.

Ms Scaffidi was grilled on Tuesday about her written statement provided to the tribunal and comments to the media, including a press release.

“I’ve come a long way in my understanding of the issues in the last three years and I do apologise and accept that some of my word choices throughout were not ideal,” Ms Scaffidi said.

She said it was not her intention to downplay the seriousness of the breaches.

“My understanding has continually evolved to today,” she said.

Ms Scaffidi said she was now especially cautious about disclosing gifts and ensuring transparency.

“Nowadays I’m disclosing everything and making sure I leave no room for different interpretation,” she said.

State Solicitors Office lawyer Carolyn Thatcher claimed there were inconsistencies in Ms Scaffidi’s statements and it was difficult for the tribunal to rely on what the lord mayor said because her story had changed.

Ms Scaffidi denied the allegation, saying her words may have altered but her story had not.

It is open to the tribunal to suspend or disqualify Ms Scaffidi over the breaches.

The hearing continues.