Peter Slipper arrives at the Federal Court in Sydney.
THE man who introduced Peter Slipper to former aide and accuser James Ashby was told by the stood-aside Speaker that he believed he was being spied on.
The Age has obtained 200 pages of court documents detailing every SMS sent between Mr Slipper and Mr Ashby – who is suing the Speaker and former employer for sexual harassment – over a nine-month period.
The text messages – which reveal a one-time close and ribald relationship between the politician and the former staffer – were filed by Mr Ashby’s legal team in the Federal Court on Friday but are not public.
Rhys Reynolds, who briefly worked in Mr Slipper’s office in 2011, took Mr Ashby with him to a cocktail function at Mr Slipper’s Buderim home about the middle of last year, several months before the independent MP hired Mr Ashby as his media adviser in December.
The new evidence tendered to court by Mr Ashby’s defence team reveals Mr Reynolds – Mr Ashby’s one-time school friend – visited Canberra in November last year and met with Mr Slipper.
Mr Reynolds then advised Mr Ashby by text that Mr Slipper had asked if Mr Reynolds was gay and that he thought he was visiting him ”to spy on him” in order to feed information to the local Sunshine Coast media. Mr Slipper also inquired as to whether Mr Reynolds was homosexual and if he and Mr Ashby were ”still together”.
”Lol that’s Peter. He is very intrigued by the whole gay thing,” Mr Ashby replied in a text message after Mr Reynolds recounted the conversation. ”Wtf? That’s very bizarre to think about the spy thing!!!”
As part of his defence to Mr Ashby’s sexual harassment claim, Mr Slipper told the Federal Court this week he believes Mr Ashby ”was placed” in his office or ”contrived a situation where he was able to come to my office” as part of an elaborate political conspiracy driven by the Liberal National Party as payback for leaving the LNP to accept the Speaker’s position in November last year.
But Mr Ashby’s barrister, Michael Lee, SC, tendered to court 200 pages of documents as part of his client’s defence against claims made by Mr Slipper that the aide was ”grooming” the Speaker, not the other way around.
The 200 pages of new evidence also reveal Mr Slipper asked his aide in December, ”Want to go to kings cross/taylor sq in syd?”
Mr Ashby told a friend he had been advised against taking the position in the Speaker’s office by the wife of Queensland cabinet minister Mark McArdle, Judy, who had worked in Mr Slipper’s office previously. In October last year, Mr Ashby suggested Mr Slipper aim for the speakership. Mr Slipper appeared surprised at the suggestion, sending Mr Ashby an SMS that read: ”Range of options open … Where did you get the idea I could become Speaker?”
The documents also reveal Mr Slipper distrusted the local media in his electorate as he believed his LNP rivals – including Mal Brough, now the preselected candidate in the seat of Fisher – were involved in a co-ordinated campaign to smear his reputation.
The affidavit includes every text message – notated with the words ”read” or ”sent” accompanied by editorialised explanatory remarks by Mr Ashby’s legal team. The hearings continue this week.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.