Court Judgment Allows James Ashby to Pursue Sexual Harassment Case vs Former Australian Parliament Speaker Peter Slipper

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By Vittorio Hernandez | February 28, 2014 10:13 AM EST

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Former Australian Parliament Speaker Peter Slipper suffered a legal slip on Thursday when an appeal court ruled that his former staff, James Ashby, could pursue the sexual harassment case he filed against his ex-boss.

The ruling reverses a previous lower court decision that said the allegations of sexual harassment made by Mr Ashby were in pursuit of political attack.  In December 2012, Federal Court Justice Steven Rares dismissed the sexual harassment case that Mr Ashby filed against the former speaker as an abuse of process.  

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Mr Rares said Mr Ashby did not show feelings of distress and harassment due to his boss's conduct toward him since he didn't complain about the text messages to his friends. The judge also pointed out that Mr Ashby also participated in sexually suggestive SMS with Mr Slipper.

Mr Rares then ruled that the case was an attempt to advance the political interest of Liberal National Party MP Mal Brough who was Mr Slipper's political rival. Mr Brough won the former seat of Mr Fisher in Australia's September 2013 federal election.

Mr Ashby claimed that when he was employed by the speaker as an adviser, Mr Slipper sent him sexually explicit messages and also made sexually aggressive remarks.

After the appeal court decision, Mr Ashby said, quoted by The Australian, "We will now continue with the legal fight and my chance to obtain justice ... As you can imagine this has been a long and torturous journey, but I am determined not to give up until my claim has been vindicated."

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