UPDATE: PETER Slipper could find out as early as next week if he is to be rid of the sexual harassment claims brought against him by his former staffer James Ashby.

With his wife's head resting on his shoulder, the former parliamentary speaker sat silently in Sydney's Federal Court on Friday as a full bench heard part two of Mr Ashby's bid to prove his allegations were not politically motivated.

Mr Ashby is appealing the decision handed down by Justice Steven Rares last year that he and others brought the allegations against Mr Slipper to damage his reputation and further the interests of the Liberal National Party and in particular, Mal Brough.

His solicitor, Michael Harmer, who Justice Rares suggested was involved in the conspiracy, claims it's his reputation which has been damaged.

Both parties still insist Mr Ashby was distressed by the content of text messages sent to him by Mr Slipper and that Justice Rares reached his decision without hearing all the evidence.

Mr Slipper's lawyer Ian Neil told the court the messages sent by Mr Ashby showed "no trace of inhibition" and suggested he felt able to "strongly assert himself".

He rejected the suggestion Ashby felt there was a "power differential" between the two and said while it was clear Ashby had spoken to others about his working relationship with Mr Slipper, none of the messages , in any way, supported the sexual harassment allegations.

Barrister Michael Lee, for Mr Ashby, argued Slipper's evidence had been "all over the shop" and said that someone who was the victim of sexual harassment would not necessarily have discussed it via text messages.

He said that while the content of Mr Slipper's messages could be described as "vulgar and sexualised", Mr Ashby's could not.

He also claimed Mr Ashby's made the decision to launch court proceedings rather than make an internal complaint was for the right reasons.

In closing, the panel of judges promised to deliver their decision as soon as possible.

Outside court, Mr Slipper did not answer when asked if he was confident the saga was finally over.

 

James Ashby says all of Peter Slipper texts tell the story

JAMES Ashby's sexual harassment case against former parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper may not have failed had all text messages, rather than a select few, been exposed, the NSW Federal Court has heard.

Michael Lee SC is arguing that Justice Steven Rares ruled Mr Ashby and his solicitor Michael Harmer abused the process of the court before they were given the opportunity to answer the allegations and without any evidence of other communications which "may have taken place".

He rejected findings that there was no evidence Mr Ashby "was in any way traumatised" by the texts he received from Mr Slipper and accused the respondents of being "selective" in the rendering of texts used to fuel the abuse of process claim.

He said his legal team had sought to have all texts tendered in court so "all dealings between parties would be exposed".

In dismissing the case last year, Justice Rares found the allegations were brought against the speaker to destroy his reputation and advance the interests of his Liberal National Party and his Fisher opponent Mal Brough.

He also suggested Mr Harmer had taken on the case with the knowledge it would injure Mr Slipper's reputation.

Mr Lee said that it was because Mr Harmer was aware the accusations could have adverse consequences that he took the "quite extraordinary step" of getting an affidavit from Mr Ashby before making an allegation against a "senior figure".

He said Mr Harmer denied ever having any contact with Mr Brough and was, in fact, "not a political supporter of the conservative side of politics".

Mr Slipper, who has in the past fronted court alone, sat hand in hand with his wife on Thursday.

Both Mr Ashby and Mr Harmer were also present in court.

The hearing continues.



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