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

Ashby won't answer diary allegations

THE man suing sidelined Speaker Peter Slipper over claims of sexual harassment will not be made to answer questions in court regarding allegations he shared parts of the Sunshine Coast MP's diary.

James Ashby's lawyer, Michael Lee SC, argued in the Federal Court on Friday his client should not be forced to give evidence that could incriminate him.

Allegations Mr Ashby, who is suing Mr Slipper and the Commonwealth, made copies of Mr Slipper's diary to share with journalist Steve Lewis and former Liberal Party Minister Mal Brough surfaced when the matter was last before the court on June 15.

Both Mr Slipper and the Commonwealth have filed abuse of process claims in a bid to have the matter thrown out.

Revelations of Mr Ashby's alleged dealings with journalists and Coalition figures prompted senior Labor minister Anthony Albanese to draw comparisons with the Watergate scandal.

"What we heard yesterday in the court was that there was considerable contact between Mr Ashby and senior people in the media and the LNP," Mr Albanese said on June 16.

"The government has made an application that this is an abuse of process and that these actions were vexatious.

That is, this was politically motivated and what we've seen here is an engagement in the politics of personal destruction. It is very clear from the statements made in Court that much more needs to be known about the details."

Other Federal Government ministers have commented publicly on the case, including Attorney-General Nicola Roxon.

Mr Lee argued on Friday this amounted to accusing Mr Ashby of a criminal conspiracy.

Justice Steven Rares agreed Mr Ashby had a common law right to claim privilege against self-incrimination.

He also said the matter had become politicised and blown out of proportion, and urged all parties to use mediation to settle the sexual harassment allegations.

It was also revealed during Friday's hearing that Queensland Liberal-National Party president Bruce McIver has been subpoenaed to give evidence in the case.

Mr McIver, who on Thursday denied he had been subpoenaed, has agreed to co-operate.



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