James Ashby is ending his two-year legal fight over sexual harassment claims levelled at his former boss Peter Slipper.
“After deep reflection and consultation with those close to me, I now have decided to seek leave to discontinue my Federal Court action against Peter Slipper,” Ashby said in an email detailed in The Australian.
“This has been an intense and emotionally draining time for me and my family, taking its toll on us all.”
Ashby alleged that Slipper, the Liberal MP who defected from his party to become parliamentary speaker in the last ALP government, had sexually harassed him while he was the Speaker’s media officer by sexual remarks, sexual advances and explicit text messages.
Ashby’s revelations forced Slipper to resign as the Speaker of the House of Representatives in October 2012, plunging the Gillard government into another crisis as it fought to maintain its narrow hold on power. The recruitment of Slipper by Gillard and his subsequent fall from grace in part paved the way for Kevin Rudd’s return as Prime Minister.
The decision to drop the case is a surprise because after the case was dismissed by the Federal Court in December 2012, Ashy lodged an appeal.
Ashby was initially declared vexatious and trying to ruin his former boss’ reputation, but that view was overturned on appeal in February this year.
“We will now continue with the legal fight and my chance to obtain justice for my original claim against Mr Slipper,” Ashby said at the time, following the decision.
Ashby sued the Commonwealth, as Slipper’s employer, and settled out-of-court, but continued his claim against his old boss until today’s surprise move.
Slipper, who lost his seat at least year’s election, is not yet completely clear of the courts. He is still facing charges that misused Cabcharge vouchers in 2010, mostly on visits to Canberra wineries, and subsequently tried to cover it up. The case is before the ACT Magistrates Court.
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