Peter Slipper claims 'vindication' over Ashby
PETER Slipper says he has been vindicated by former staffer James Ashby's withdrawal of his two-year sexual harassment case against him.
Mr Slipper's lawyer, Simon Berry of Hilliard and Berry Solicitors, sent a statement last night saying how Mr Ashby's decision to drop the case was a surprise.
Only the day before, Mr Ashby's solicitors had agreed to take orders before the Federal Court of Australia to allow the hearing to proceed on June 30.
Mr Ashby cited mounting costs to taxpayers, the unlikelihood any financial ruling against Mr Slipper would actually be paid, and concerns over Mr Slipper's mental state as the reasons for withdrawing the case.
He believed the Federal Court's decision to grant an appeal had indirectly suggested "that the harassment had in fact occurred".
Mr Slipper's lawyer disputed this and said Mr Ashby had simply been granted the opportunity to proceed with his case.
"No court has found that the sexual harassment alleged by Mr Ashby ever occurred," he said.
Mr Slipper rejected Mr Ashby's claim he had "somehow conducted this litigation unfairly".
"Mr Ashby instigated these proceedings," he said.
"He maintained these allegations for two years. He has now decided to discontinue the proceedings. It means the personal toll and cost of litigation has been for nothing."
Mr Slipper said Mr Ashby's allegations had caused him "enormous personal stress" that had "required ongoing psychiatric and psychological treatment and many weeks of inpatient hospital care".
"My mental illness is both ongoing and debilitating," he said, adding the impact the allegations had on him personally and everyone close to him was both "immeasurable and irreparable".
"That the allegations have been withdrawn is vindication for myself, my wife and my family," he said.
Mr Slipper resigned as Speaker of the House of Representatives as a result of the allegations, which he always denied.
"I very much regret these horrendous allegations have meant that I was never able to complete my reform agenda for the House of Representatives," he said.
Mr Slipper faces ongoing legal action from the Commonwealth for alleged misuse of Cabcharge vouchers.
He also faces a discrimination case from another former staffer, Karen Doane.