Small victory for James Ashby
STOOD-DOWN Federal Parliamentary Speaker Peter Slipper has been ordered to cover James Ashby's legal costs after Slipper's legal team officially withdrew the allegation his former staffer had "unlawfully" sent extracts of his diary to political opponents and the media.
Since Mr Ashby publicly accused Mr Slipper of sexual harassment, the Speaker has worked to prove he was framed.
In the original abuse of process claim filed in July by Mr Slipper's lawyers, Mr Ashby is accused of sending excerpts of the Speaker's work diary to his Sunshine Coast political opponent Mal Brough and News Ltd journalist Steve Lewis.
This week, Mr Slipper's lawyers applied to the Federal Court to have the term "unlawfully" removed from the claim.
The back-down was reportedly in response to the suggestion by Mr Ashby's Barrister Michael Lee that his client had the constitutional right to leak the information if he believed the Speaker had acted inappropriately.
On Friday, Justice Steven Rarest approved the change but ordered Mr Slipper to cover the costs arising from Friday's hearing.
Mr Ashby took to twitter to announce the small victory.
"After repeating numerous times his allegation of unlawful conduct by us in releasing extracts of Mr Slipper's diary relevant to his alleged misuse of taxpayers' funds, Mr Slipper has now finally unconditionally withdrawn that allegation in these proceedings," the post read
"He will also be required by court order to pay our substantial indemnity."
The next hearing will be on October 2.