Ashby threatens to sue Roxon
JAMES Ashby has threatened to sue federal Attorney General Nicola Roxon for defamation less than a day after he reached a $50,000 out-of-court settlement with the Federal Government.
Mr Ashby, who claims he was sexually harassed while working for the Speaker of the Parliament and Member for Sunshine Coast seat Fisher, Peter Slipper, sued the Federal Government for failing to provide a safe workplace.
Mr Ashby also sued Mr Slipper for alleged sexual harassment. Mr Slipper denies the allegations, and the matter is scheduled to return to the Federal Court in Sydney on Tuesday.
But a spokesman for Mr Ashby said comments made by Ms Roxon about the settlement left him with no choice but to consider taking further legal action against her and the Federal Government.
"In the statement by the Commonwealth Attorney General, Ms Nicola Roxon, she has repeated the allegations against Mr Ashby that his claim is vexatious (and thus an abuse of process), despite the fact the Commonwealth has agreed to withdraw its application alleging abuse of process," the statement released late on Friday night read.
"The Attorney General's statement may also be read as suggesting that it was Mr Ashby who initiated the withdrawal and settlement of the case, when the opposite is, in fact, the situation.
"It is regrettable that as a result of the Attorney General's conduct, Mr Ashby is now forced to consider his position in relation to commencing defamation, victimisation and contempt of court proceedings against Ms Roxon and the Commonwealth."
Mr Ashby had earlier claimed that in agreeing to the settlement the Federal Government had "retreated" from its abuse of process claims.
But in a statement issued on Friday, Ms Roxon said the Federal Government had agreed to the settlement to save taxpayers' money and did not "resile from arguments that we've previously made before the court that the claim was vexatious".
"However, as Mr Ashby has now withdrawn his claim, our abuse-of-process claim will be withdrawn as well," the statement read.
"As anyone who has been involved in a settlement will attest to, settlements aren't about who is right or wrong, they are about bringing matters to a speedy conclusion, which the Commonwealth has now achieved."
Law firm Maurice Blackburn ceased representing the Mr Slipper only recently.