Former Speaker Peter Slipper.
Former Speaker Peter Slipper. Warren Lynam

Slipper case fails to get thrown out

PETER Slipper's lawyers have failed in their attempts to have the sexual harassment case being brought against the sidelined Speaker thrown out of court.

Instead, the hearings will continue after a "constitutional matter", raised by complainant James Ashby's lawyers in court on Monday, is addressed.

During Monday's abuse of process hearing, Mr Slipper's defence team argued the sexual harassment allegations were nothing by a publicity stunt.

Senior counsel for Mr Slipper Ian Neil said it was clear Mr Ashby had deliberately engaged the services of a media hungry legal firm to gain maximum exposure for his allegations.

He said Harmers Workplace Lawyers, the same firm which represented Kristy Fraser-Kirk in her well-publicised case against a David Jones boss, were noted for putting a "blow torch" to the media to get what they want.

In documents filed in the court, Mr Slipper's lawyers claim Mr Ashby liaised with his lawyers and the media for several weeks before the story broke.

It is also alleged Mr Ashby timed the release of the information to the media "to procure maximum news coverage" and, with the knowledge the Speaker was out of the country, to limit his ability to respond to the claims.

Justice Steven Rares had set aside a whole day to hear from Mr Slipper's legal team as to why the hearings should not be allowed to go ahead, but a point raised by Ashby's lawyer Michael Lee brought the proceedings to a close in the afternoon.

State and Federal Attorneys-General have now been invited to intervene before the abuse of claim process claim can go ahead.

Mr Ashby's claim is that over a period of three months the Speaker repeatedly made unwelcome sexual advances towards him.

The defence maintains the case is "manifestly weak" and was brought on the destroy the Speaker's reputation and political career.

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