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Senior owed $19,000 by ex-senator says ‘I just want the money that I’m owed’

Disgraced former senator Curtis Richardson attends the Magistrates Court hearing (Photograph Kyle McNeil)

An elderly woman fighting to recover $19,000 in rent arrears from a disgraced former senator became emotional as the case went back to court stating: “I just want the money that I’m owed”.

Margaret Harvey, who is in her seventies, saw the issue return to Magistrates Court as former senator Curtis Richardson was ordered to start paying $325 a month from the end of March or face jail time.

After the latest hearing, Mrs Harvey told The Royal Gazette that she just wanted the two-year saga to end and for Mr Richardson to pay the back rent.

David Burt, the Premier, elevated Mr Richardson to the Upper House and junior ministerial posts in October 2020 despite the Harvey family warning him about the mounting debt situation twice in May and September of that year.

Yesterday it was revealed in court that Mr Richardson has debts of $539,492, including $97,000 on his taxi/taxi permit.

During a hearing to discuss his means and financial situation, Mr Richardson did not say who owned the taxi he drives.

Questions were raised in court over whether Mr Burt, or a member of his family, may own the taxi.

Representing Mrs Harvey, her daughter Dr Margot Harvey, told the court: “I am making it clear that Mr Richardson does not own the taxi and the payment that he was paying for the taxi … has been frozen since March 2020.

“Would the taxi owner be ordered to freeze his maintenance and his insurance payments as well, so that more money could be paid towards our outstanding debt?”

Dr Harvey added: “I don’t know if David Burt, or a member of his family, is the owner of the taxi, but that might be something that he could discuss with them?”

Asked if the Premier, or a member of his family, was the taxi owner, Mr Richardson told The Royal Gazette as he left court: “I can’t say who owns the taxi. Because it’s an agreement between them and I.

“My business is mine, you know? I’m working.”

Pressed on the matter, Mr Richardson said: “I won’t say who owns the taxi at all.”

Mr Richardson quit his Upper House and junior ministerial posts in January after Mrs Harvey broke down in tears at the Supreme Court as she attempted to recover the money owed.

The Harvey family say that Mr Richardson was given notice to quit in March 2020 because of complaints about noise from the property and it was only at that point he stopped paying the $2,500 monthly rent, instead making small one-off payments and having Financial Assistance pay $1,163 a month for September, October and November 2020.

It emerged in court that Mr Richardson was paid his first senatorial salary of $1,597 on October 31, 2020.

Mr Richardson has been renting a home costing $2,850 a month since he finally vacated the Harvey property in February 2021.

Questioned about why he made Mr Richardson a senator, earning more than $30,000 a year, despite the Harvey family warnings, the Premier said last week: “I have spoken to Mrs Harvey, and Mrs Harvey and I had an incredibly, detailed and lovely conversation. That conversation was as though I was speaking to my mother.”

Referring to the Premier’s call, Mrs Harvey’s husband, Robert Harvey, said: “He was apologising for not following up and he thought that Curtis [Richardson] had taken care of it.

“He [Mr Burt] was under the impression it had been taken care of. He was saying he didn’t follow through to find out if Curtis did take care of it.”

The Government was asked for a response to the suggestion over who owned the taxi in question.