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Posts Tagged ‘Federal Court’

My Twitter interview with #Ashby’s media adviser

In Ashby Conspiracy, Margo Kingston on May 3, 2013 at 6:57 PM
James Ashby (left) with Anthony McClellan after the Federal Court ruling on December 12. Photo: Wolter Peeters, Fairfax

James Ashby (left) with Anthony McClellan after the Federal Court ruling on December 12. Their moneyman Michael Harmer stands behind.’ Photo: Wolter Peeters, Fairfax

By Margo Kingston

May 3, 2013

Mr Anthony McClellan followed me this morning, after I tweeted on the #Ashby appeal. His invitation to talk. So I threw him some questions and he threw me some answers. We’ve published the interview for the record here.

It is interesting that he chose to speak for Ashby lawyers Harmers on the $millions question of who is bankrolling Ashby’s case. The amount of damages awarded on court success could not cover the enormous costs involved, and perhaps not even the solicitor-client costs remaining if the Court ordered Slipper to pay party-party costs. Another mystery is why, if Harmers was carrying costs out of goodwill to poor Ashby, as claimed, perhaps tongue in cheek, by McClellan, the firm chose the most expensive and risky route possible to pursue his claim – an action in the Federal Court.

Rares judgement states that McClellan’s clients are Ashby and Doane, so why did he answer, at least in part, questions about Harmers’ funding? And what evidence does he rely on as the basis for his statements?

Naturally he chose to answer some questions and not others. He stated that he was retained by Ashby’s lawyer Harmers and has not yet been paid. He stated that Harmers were carrying the costs, and there were ‘no pledges’ of support from 3rd parties. He confirmed the truth of the Rares judgement concerning him.

Rares’ judgement states:

‘Mr Harmer recommended that Mr Ashby engage Mr McClellan as his media consultant to handle dealings with the media because Mr Slipper would be a high profile respondent in the intended proceedings. Mr Ashby and Ms Doane engaged Mr McClellan at $550 per hour plus GST on a no win no fee basis.’

These are the questions he chose not to answer:

Whether he could guarantee that no-one else would chip in funds to cover Harmer’s costs.

Who asked Harmers to take the job.

Why he agreed to deferred payment.

#Ashby appeal, Day 1

In Ashby Conspiracy, Joan Evatt on May 3, 2013 at 6:52 AM
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James Ashby, flanked by his parents and his lawyer Michael Harmer at the NSW Supreme court for their appeal application. Photo: Kate Geraghty, Fairfax

By Joan Evatt

May 3, 2013

With the exception of Michael Harmer all the key players were there for the media to take quick photos and 15-second video grabs. Peter Slipper and James Ashby are starting to look a little frayed around the edges as they prepare to endure yet another round in this legal saga.

Yesterday was the first day of a two-day hearing by the Full Court of the Federal Court. Justices Mansfield, Siopis and Gilmour are concurrently hearing both the application for leave to appeal along with the more substantive issues of the appeal itself.

Justice Mansfield tipped the wink to the parties’ representatives as to how much time the court thought should be allocated to each of the lawyers. For Michael Lee SC, Mr Ashby’s counsel and the first legal cab off the rank, this was always going to be difficult. His job is to plough the field for the first time with no real indication of the legal hoops he may have to jump through when they are presented to him by any one of the justices presiding.

Lee’s argument is that Rares J. made three fundamental errors resulting in Ashby not being able to present his case in full and therefore ‘be determined on its merits.’ He put forward the view that Ashby had not received procedural fairness.

Lee argued that the finding of an abuse of process by Rares J was
flawed as the seriousness of that finding required an onus that was a ‘heavy one’. Rares J needed to be ‘cautious’ in his consideration of this issue and, according to Mr Lee, Justice Rares wasn’t.

Mr Lee further argued that Justice Rares adopted an ‘impressionistic view’ about Mr Ashby’s involvement in a conspiracy to harm Mr Slipper with inferences being drawn that compromised the fact finding process.

The third error in the Rares decision, according to Mr Lee, involved the conduct of Mr Ashby’s solicitor, Mr Harmer. This was dealt with comparatively briefly as Mr Harmer, now a party to the appeal, is being separately represented by counsel, David Pritchard SC.

Lee SC also raised concerns about Justice Rares’s rejection of unchallenged evidence. Mr Slipper was representing himself at the time Michael Harmer gave evidence and didn’t subject Harmer’s evidence to any cross-examination. Read the rest of this entry »

Joan Evatt’s preview of #Ashby appeal

In Ashby Conspiracy, Joan Evatt on April 29, 2013 at 3:46 PM

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By Joan Evatt

April 29, 2013

Editors note: Here is Joan’s preview of the appeals by Ashby and his lawyer Michael Harmer against the Justice Rares’ dismissal of Ashby’s sexual harassment claim against Slipper as an abuse of the judicial system. Joan will report the hearing for @NoFibs.  Her first report is here.

Just when you think it is safe to re-enter still waters, the waves start to churn again. It’s a cause to pause. The matter of an application before the Court of Appeal to grant leave, and to consider reasons why Justice Rare’s decision in Ashby v Slipper should be overturned, will be heard this week.

The next saga resulting from Justice Rares’s decision in Ashby v Slipper was always going to be of interest. Public scrutiny of the appeal is further heightened because of one unusual aspect of the appeal. One of the appellants is Mr Ashby’s high-profile solicitor, Michael Harmer, of Harmer’s Workplace Lawyers.

For Mr Slipper, although the appeal is a continuing financial and emotional burden, this time should prove a slightly more refreshing exercise. Slipper is no longer on the back foot. Rather it is Mr Ashby and Mr Harmer who are both now fighting for their future professional careers and public standing.

Both applications contain identical grounds founded in Mr Ashby’s and Mr Harmer’s belief that Rares J erred in finding that the “predominant purpose” of Mr Ashby

“ … for bringing the proceedings was to pursue a political attack against the Respondent (Mr Slipper) and not to vindicate any legal claim he (that is Mr Ashby) may have… and accordingly that the proceedings were an abuse of process.” Read the rest of this entry »

Ashby v Slipper Appeal: the first round

In Ashby Conspiracy, Joan Evatt on February 8, 2013 at 4:02 PM

By Joan Evatt
Source: Boeufblogginon
February 8th 2013

Michael Harmer

Michael Harmer

There were surprisingly few members of the general public present at today’s directions hearing before Emmett J in the matter of the Ashby v Slipper applications for leave to appeal to the Full Bench of the Federal Court. Is this issue dead in the water with the masses and is now only of interest to the mainstream media? I’ll let others decide.

The applications for leave to appeal were not heard today but will be heard before the Full Bench of the Federal Court during their May sittings. At the conclusion of the matter before Emmett J representatives of all parties toddled off to hammer out suitable dates in May.

It was made clear by Emmett J that if leave to appeal is granted by the Full Bench then they would likely go on to hear the appeal at that time during their May sittings.

One thing that did amuse me was the issue of the length of written submissions arguing a case for the leave to appeal to be either granted or rejected. Apparently written submissions are limited to 10 pages but parties for Harmer asked for them to be increased to 30 pages. Emmett J granted this request subject to the presiding judge of the Full Bench countering the request and enforcing the 10 page rule. (For some reason this tickled my fancy and I had a quiet snigger).

The other matter for business was the issue of costs being awarded to Slipper as a result of Rare’s decision now, of course, the subject of two applications for leave to appeal.

Emmett J slated the hearing on costs to 30th May. The logic seems to be if leave isn’t granted then the hearing on costs can go ahead, but it will be totally dependent on the outcome of the leave to appeal.

So bing bang wallah wallah bing bang – all over in a very short time.

The other highly amusing thing for me was my engagement with members of the mainstream media in the lift going down while they chatted between themselves trying to sort out what had just happened in court.

It was my “OH For Fuck’s Sake” moment as I then, without the benefit of any notes, gave them a six point summary as to what had happened – all done and dusted before we hit the ground floor. Once outside the court precincts I was asked to repeat what I had said in the lift, which I did while notes were taken, much to the amusement of the delightful Ross Jones, my comrade for the morning and occasional contributor to Independent Australia, the on-line magazine.

To my very best new friends in the MSM: Today wasn’t exactly rocket science, and it helps to prepare and listen to what is being said in court instead of chatting, even if it is about the case. I don’t even want to think about what is not being taught in journalism degrees.

The focus of the Ashby-Slipper story will change as this appeal proceeds. It isn’t about Ashby anymore or, for that matter, Slipper. Well, maybe a bit. But they are now playing second fiddle to Michael Harmer. Make no mistake Harmer is now driving this engine. That is the story in my view. Appeals will be lodged all the way if necessary because at stake is Harmer’s professional reputation and career. If I was occupying Harmer’s shoes I would be doing the same.

We buy your papers, so give us a little respect! Where is the #Ashbygate judgment coverage?

In Ashby Conspiracy, Noely Neate on January 8, 2013 at 3:52 AM

By Noely Neate
Source: YaThink
Date: December 13th, 2012

Screenshot | 10 October 2012 | Sunshine Coast Daily | Readers, Brough say it’s time for Slipper to quit politics | Caption: “KEEN VIEWER: Mal Brough watches from the Daily’s news room as Peter Slipper resigns.” |

Regional areas rely on National media to ensure that we get a very full picture of what is happening in the Nation and the World.  Living in a regional area can be great, more relaxed lifestyle, awesome place to bring up a family etc., the flipside is that you are limited in choices and it can be easy to become a big fish in a little pond.  If the power being wielded is good, than that is not a problem, unfortunately when you’re the local newspaper and the big fish too long it can be detrimental.  Obviously there are area specific issues when you are the only show in town, you can’t go too hard on say Council or sitting MP’s as they may not talk to you at all or give you no access which means you have nothing to report?  On the other hand it can also mean that when you ‘go after someone’, there is no-one else to in the region to give an opposite view, this is what is happening on the Sunshine Coast at the moment.

Our local paper has been onto Peter Slipper for years.  Invested time and money into Travel rorts and the like.  At some stages it has been almost fanatical.  As Peter Brent in the Australian commented in his article “We can all dream” on the 19th of December “But Slipper is no ordinary sitting MP. He has a negative personal vote. Between the 2007and 2010 election his local rag the Sunshine Coast Daily went after him about entitlement transgressions. They went hard, and they were effective.”  This is very true, look at “Topic: peter slipper” in the Sunshine Coast Daily and you will see how long and hard they have been chasing Peter Slipper.  Even though the man has not been convicted of any wrong-doing the average local now thinks he is the biggest crook in the state? Read the rest of this entry »

Where is the #Ashbygate Outrage? Keeping an Eye on the media.

In Ashby Conspiracy, Noely Neate on January 8, 2013 at 3:34 AM

By Noely Neate
Source: YaThink
Date: December 13th, 2012

Keeping an Eye on the media

The day after Gillard’s (now famous) ‘misogyny’ speech I woke up thinking I was in the twilight zone.  Everyone I knew was amazed or affected in some way, yet, the morning news and papers barely referred to it, instead focussing on Slipper resigning?  I was seriously, WTF?  Thankfully over the next few days the so-called ‘serious’ media commentators were basically shamed into at least acknowledging it (even if in some terribly conservative white male stances) by social media and overseas media.  This whole #Ashbygate (as it is referred to on twitter) episode is a major déjà vu, the only difference is, not only am I am in the twilight zone, I am outraged!

Yes, Slipper had some repulsively juvenile texts, though of course without the “abuse of the process of the Court” (Justice Rares words, not mine, see “full judgement here” we, the public, would not even have been aware of the sexists texts, BUT, in reality the texts have now not been found to be illegal, just ‘vulgar’.  To be perfectly honest, the texts reek more of a man suffering a mid-life crisis trying to impress the perceived cool kid on the block, not so much aggressive sexism.  Regardless, it is not a good look, though am sure there are worse out there in MP land if we grabbed all their texts for the last 5 years?  What outrages me is the fact that a few people through their actions decided they would try to change the face of our democratically elected landscape. Read the rest of this entry »

The media now operates with all the subtlety of a Pugilist.

In Ashby Conspiracy, Craig Emerson on December 24, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Subtlety lost

By Craig Emerson
Date: 24 December 2012
Source: Craig Emerson

Newspaper Front Pages Collage

At Sydney University in the early 1970s a course simply called “Government” was offered to economics, arts and law students. It was a time of social upheaval and the election of the Whitlam Government had ended 23 years of conservative rule. The Murdoch press had backed a change of government.

My tutor in Government, Lex Watson, a gay rights activist, had set us a task: to identify bias in the media. But as left-wing as Lex was, the six-week project wasn’t about left versus right, it was about the techniques used by the print media to slant a story to suit an editorial position.

During those six weeks I learned many of the established techniques, simply by comparing the treatment of the same story in different newspapers. Placement on an odd-numbered page gave a story greater prominence than on a left-hand side, even-numbered page. A front-page story in one newspaper might have been well back in another. An otherwise balanced story might be thrown out of balance by the editor’s headline. And oh so important, an archived photo of a scowling or cheerful politician could be retrieved from the files to capture the editor’s intent. Read the rest of this entry »

Timeline for #AshbyConspiracy & Questions for an #AshbyInquiry

In Ashby Conspiracy, Tony The Geek on December 23, 2012 at 12:06 AM

Collage of pollies in AshbyGate

[View the story “Timeline for #AshbyConspiracy & Questions for #AshbyInquiry” on Storify]

A Federal Court Judge has found a conspiracy by James Ashby, Karen Doane, Mal Brough to advance their own interest and that of the LNP. Mr Abbott maintains that he had no specific knowledge. Here is a timeline & questions.

This timeline will not cover every detail, as all of this was already covered extensively in the court case ruling as well as the media. What is covered is some of the aspects of the timeline which do not receive as much attention for whatever reason.

There are some questions on the record from Twitter below in the second section. Please feel free to add some more under the hashtag #AshbyQuestions after reviewing some of the info in here. Also please feel free to suggest more relevant facts that should be added to the timeline. A crowd-sourced effort has more chance to get the public record right.

Mr Abbott and Mr Slipper were best friends. Here seen in happier times.

Overlooking Australia’s Watergate

In Ashby Conspiracy, Victoria Rollison on December 22, 2012 at 11:51 PM

By Victoria Rollison
December 15, 2012
Source: victoriarollison.com

The Watergate scandal was, apparently, rather big news at the time. People went to prison, the President of the USA was forced to resign and investigative reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein became household names. Nixon’s Republican party came undone through a conspiracy to find dirt on their rivals in the Democratic Party. Dirt that was to be used in an election smear campaign. In the end, they sufficiently smeared themselves out of office, when Nixon’s replacement, President Ford, lost the 1976 election to Democrat Jimmy Carter. As scandals go, I can see that this one was very newsworthy. When President Nixon said he had no knowledge of the conspiracy, it took the work of investigative journalists to prove he was lying. Woodward and Bernstein investigated this conspiracy for two years. It was the story of their careers.

The Watergate scandal has left an indelible mark on our language – political scandals are now nicknamed ‘gates’.  In Australia, we’ve had the famous OzCar affair (Utegate), which contributed to the demise of Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership of the LNP opposition. Over the last two days another ‘gate’ has been born – Ashbygate. To be entirely accurate, this gate was actually born in independent media over the last ten months (Independent Australia including contributors Peter Wicks, Vince O’Grady and editor David Donovan, Crikey, and Vex News). After thousands of words were exchanged via independent news sites and social media about the very clear and obvious conspiracy behind the Peter Slipper sexual harassment case, it wasn’t until Federal Court Justice Steven Rares threw the case out on Wednesday that the mainstream media decided the story warranted attention. But why had it not received any attention before? Read the rest of this entry »

From Watergate to Ashbygate – Front Pages on Slipper Scandal.

In Ashby Conspiracy, Tony The Geek on December 13, 2012 at 4:35 AM

Quote of the Year 2012 is a tie between Ms Alberici and Mr Abbott:

  1. Emma Alberici: “Virtually every commentator in the land is echoing the thoughts of the Opposition on this one. “
  1. Mr Abbott on #AshbyConspiracy: This is a tawdry state of affairs, to say the least. 

 

This shows our esteemed mainstream media at work. It is a study in how the press makes sausages.
We have our very own Australian Watergate minus investigative journalism. What happened? Where did it go?
Does mainstream journalism still exist or is it now left to the Fifth Estate, social media, blogs, twitter to do their work.

You decide.

Newspaper Front Pages Collage