James Ashby alleges Christopher Pyne offered him lawyer, job
Former political staffer James Ashby says he was allegedly offered a job and told he would get a lawyer by coalition minister Christopher Pyne when he came forward with sexual harassment allegations against former Speaker Peter Slipper.
Mr Ashby says he met twice, secretly, with Liberal MP Wyatt Roy to seek advice about a series of text messages and alleged incidents of sexual harassment directed towards him by Mr Slipper in 2012.
Mr Roy told Mr Ashby a lawyer would be paid for within 24 hours to help him take a complaint against Mr Slipper.
He said he later went to confirm this with then opposition frontbencher Mr Pyne.
“He said a lawyer would be paid for as promised and I would have a job in state Liberal National politics or federal, if I chose to come back,” Mr Ashby told the Nine Network.
“He did say to me I may never want to come back to Canberra, that I may choose to take up a job in state politics instead.
“As we exited he said ‘if you discuss or tell anyone we had this discussion I will be forced to call you a pathological liar.’ “
Mr Ashby also said in the interview it was later made clear to him there was no offer of financial assistance.
“It was made very clear to me there would be no jobs, no lawyer, no preferential treatment, nothing,” he said.
In 2012, while still a Liberal Party frontbencher, Mr Pyne confirmed he met with Mr Ashby, but said he was not informed of the pending court action.
In a statement Mr Pyne moved to distance himself from the matter, claiming he nor any other member of the government are in no way involved.
“All these matters have been aired over and over again for the last three years,” Mr Pyne said.
“Mr Slipper has been found guilty of fraud against the taxpayer.
“Mr Ashby settled a sexual harassment case with the Commonwealth.
“I had no specific knowledge of the allegations made by Mr Ashby and the first I knew that he was suing Mr Slipper was when I read it in the newspapers.
“This is a dispute between two individuals – not a dispute that includes me or any other member of the government.”
Mr Slipper resigned as parliamentary Speaker in October 2012.