Ashby to appeal Slipper sexual harassment ruling
James Ashby will continue to pursue his sexual harassment case against former Federal Speaker Peter Slipper, declaring that he will take the matter to the workplace watchdog, Fair Work Australia, as well as appeal the recent Federal Court decision against him.
A spokesman for Mr Ashby told reporters outside the Federal Court in Sydney an appeal against the court’s recent dismissal of the case would be lodged in mid-January.
Speaking on behalf of Mr Ashby as Mr Slipper's former aide looked on, media spokesman Anthony McClellan said they were planning to lodge Mr Ashby's case with Fair Work Australia on Friday afternoon, "with the aim that the whole evidence and that the witnesses can be tested in open court".
James Ashby ... will appeal decision. Photo: Nic Walker
In January, they would lodge a separate appeal against the Federal Court's recent decision that the sexual harassment case lodged in that court was an abuse of the judicial process designed to damage Mr Slipper's reputation for personal and political gain.
Mr Ashby had claimed he was the target of ''unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome sexual comments and unwelcome suggestions of a sexual nature'' while working as Mr Slipper's aide and media adviser between January and March this year.
Mr McClellan said: "Contrary to some public perceptions, James Ashby's sexual harassment case against Mr Slipper has not been heard in court and no judicial finding has been made as to whether James was sexually harassed by Mr Slipper."
James Ashby (left) with Anthony McClellan after the Federal Court ruling on December 12. Photo: Wolter Peeters
"The only matter that's been heard over the past eight months was Mr Slipper's abuse of process case."
"Later today we are planning to file James Ashby's sexual harassment case with Fair Work Australia, with the aim that the whole evidence and that the witnesses can be tested in open court at the appropriate time. This is designed to preserve and protect James's legal rights."
Mr McClellan said that Harmers Workplace Lawyers, which was strongly criticised by Federal Court Justice Steven Rares as being part of the abuse of process, would continue to represent Mr Ashby.
The former Speaker of the Federal Parliament, Peter Slipper. Photo: Mick Tsikas
In dismissing the sexual harassment case from the Federal Court as an abuse of process on December 12, Justice Steven Rares found that it was a planned political attack devised by Mr Ashby in combination with fellow Slipper aide Karen Doane and with the assistance of the former Howard government minister Mal Brough and Mr Ashby's solicitor, Michael Harmer.
He found that by March 29 this year, Mr Ashby and Ms Doane had decided to make allegations of sexual harassment in legal proceedings against Mr Slipper and would assist Mr Brough and the News Ltd journalist Steve Lewis to "damage Mr Slipper in the public eye and political arena with any information they could find".
At the same time, the two aides had begun talking to Mr Brough about new job opportunities they believed would open up to them within the Queensland Liberal National Party.
About a month later, Justice Rares found, Michael Harmer filed an originating application on Mr Ashby's behalf that contained irrelevant and scandalous allegations relating to the use of Cabcharges and an incident involving Mr Slipper and a junior staffer in 2003, the sole purpose of which was to damage Mr Slipper politically.
Another application was filed in May, a few days before the matter was due to come before court, in which these two allegations were not included.