Messages reveal Ashby's close ties
THE MAN who has accused Peter Slipper of sexual harassment first advised the suspended parliamentary speaker to manoeuvre for position well before he started working in his office.
Fairfax Media has obtained 200 pages of new text messages that reveal that James Ashby developed a close relationship with Mr Slipper and his family before he was employed as a media adviser in December.
The text messages, which were filed by Mr Ashby's legal team in the Federal Court yesterday but have not yet been made public, reveal a ribald relationship between the pair, with frequent use of coarse language, discussions about Mr Ashby's sexuality, dismissive references to female genitalia and political wargaming to ''destroy'' Mr Slipper's rival, Mal Brough.
Mr Slipper on Friday made an impassioned plea to the court to throw out a sexual harassment case brought against him by Mr Ashby, saying the lawsuit was ''dressed up'' as a sexual harassment case when it was really designed to ''hurt my political career, hurt me financially, destabilise the government and destroy my marriage''.
However, Mr Ashby's barrister, Michael Lee, SC, tendered to the court the 200 pages of documents as part of his client's defence against claims made by Mr Slipper that the staffer was ''grooming'' the Speaker, not the other way around.
Mr Lee read a selection of messages to the court and tendered the rest into evidence, saying that, shown in their full context, it was clear Mr Slipper was not set up. The affidavit includes every single text message - notated with the words ''read'' or ''sent'' accompanied by explanatory remarks by Mr Ashby's legal team.