Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Slipper vindicated!

News just in - the Federal Court has dismissed the sexual harassment case against former House of Representatives speaker Peter Slipper MP as an abuse of the court process.

Mr Slipper, you will recall, a priest of the Traditional Anglican Communion, resigned after one of his staffers accused him of sexual harassment.

The unpleasant, offensive and highly inappropriate tone of some of his text messages (and other behaviour) notwithstanding, the suspicion of a set-up occurred, after it emerged that the staffer in question remained in close contact with Mr Slipper's liberal rival for his seat, Mal Brough (who has since been endorsed as the candidate there).

The ABC Reports that the Federal Court judge involved agreed that it was a politically motivated attack:

"Federal Court Justice Steve Rares ruled that the case brought against Mr Slipper by one of his staff members was an "abuse of process", declaring that its "predominant purpose" was to politically damage the speaker."

The ABC reports that: 

"In his written judgement, Justice Rares said he believed that Mr Ashby and fellow staff member Karen Doane had been working with former Howard government minister Mal Brough "to cause Mr Slipper as much political and public damage as they could inflict on him".

He described the pair's behaviour as "acts of calculated disloyalty".

"Once they had decided on their course of action, Mr Ashby and Ms Doane did not go straight to see a lawyer to air any concerns about any legal wrongs that either may have suffered," Justice Rares wrote in his judgement.

"Instead, Mr Ashby or Ms Doane contacted Mr Brough and they began working with him and [News Limited journalist] Steve Lewis."

And of course, removing Mr Slipper from the Speaker's job pushed the Labor Minority Government a step closer to the early election Mr Abbott has been so desperately pushing for.

Yet more evidence of just what an awful state politics in this country have sunk to.

***And just what a terrible state the media in this country is in!  I normally draw attention to the outrageous anti-Catholicism of the the Fairfax media, and the ditzy eco-trendy leftyism of the ABC.

But for sheer outrageous gall it is hard to go past The Australian's treatment of this story which headlines former liberal  Minister Mal Brough as the 'victim' in the affair.

Victim?!  Well actually, the Federal Court judge named Mr Brough as one of the active conspirators in the affair, who has benefited immensely from an action that has unjustly destroyed another man's career through the misuse of the legal system for political purposes.

The Australian makes a big play on the fact that the judge didn't make a call on the merits of the case, and attempts to imply that Mr Slipper might indeed be guilty as charged.  Given what the judge said about the credibility and utter lack of professionalism of the accusers and the lawyers in this case, frankly, that's a stretch.

The judge pointed out for example that the complainants made serious criminal claims against Mr Slipper and went public with them - but then withdrew the claim for lack of evidence.  He also noted that far from appearing distressed, upset or harassed by anything Mr Slipper said, Mr Ashby immediately saw the various texts as a political opportunity to be exploited.

There will no doubt be appeals.

All the same, Mr Abbott needs to move to have Mr Brough dis-endorsed as an LNP candidate forthwith (it's really no great loss to the party; in my view he was a poor performing junior Minister whose inflexibility and intransigence over the design of the Northern Territory Intervention did more harm than good, and the voters accordingly voted him out!).

1 comment:

Matthew Fowler said...

Note too, "Malcolm Farr, National Political Editor
May 01, 20125:33PM ... THE Government has demanded the telephone records of a senior Liberal who had drinks with James Ashby just before he launched serious sexual harassment claims against Speaker Peter Slipper.

Shadow education spokesman and manager of Opposition Business Christopher Pyne has confirmed he spent about one hour in the Speaker's Office with Mr Ashby and other staff on the night of March 19.

He had come to see Mr Slipper who was detained in the House of Representatives for an hour."