Brough denies Palmer claim, Slipper says Mal must go
MAL Brough has flatly denied suggestions by Clive Palmer that he asked the billionaire to fund James Ashby's failed sexual harassment case.
In a press conference at his Kawana office today, Mr Brough said Mr Palmer has had "incredible inconsistencies on this story".
He highlighted previous news articles in which Mr Palmer had denied Mr Brough had approached him for funding and Mr Brough suggested it was a political ploy.
"We are two weeks from polling day and Mr Palmer has decided his recollection has changed," Mr Brough said.
Two offices down from Mr Brough's office, sitting MP Peter Slipper was calling for Mr Brough to resign.
Mr Slipper said if Mr Brough didn't resign the party should disendorse him because of the serious allegations raised by Mr Palmer.
James Ashby issued a press statement 15 minutes before Mr Brough's media conference.
"For abundant clarity, at no stage did James Ashby ask Mal Brough, or anyone, to fund his case," Mr Ashby's spokesman said.
"The case is being financially supported by Harmers Workplace Lawyers themselves."
Mal Brough had plan to 'destroy Peter Slipper' says Clive
JAMES Ashby never asked Mal Brough or anyone to fund his sexual harassment case at Peter Slipper, his lawyer said in a statement today.
"Clive Palmer has alleged this morning that Mal Brough had asked him to fund James Ashby's legal case against Peter Slipper,'' a spokesperson for Mr Ashby said.
"We note that Mal Brough has categorically denied this allegation.
"To date there has been total confusion and contradictions concerning this meeting between Palmer and Brough, with numerous claims and counter claims as to what supposedly took place at that Coolum lunch.
"This is just yet another chapter in this saga which is being played out in the context of an electoral battle for the seat of Fisher.
"For abundant clarity, at no stage did James Ashby ask Mal Brough,or indeed anyone, to fund his case.
"Further, as has been on the public record for some time, there is no third party funding his case.
"The case is being financially supported by Harmers Workplace Lawyers themselves.
"Harmers,on occasions, funds cases which they believe have social justice merit, where complainants
otherwise would not have access to the courts.
"Also, contrary to many reports, James Ashby has not had a substantive hearing on his claims of sexual harassment against Peter Slipper.
"That crucial matter is still to be decided.
"It should also be noted that the Justice Rares decision of last December is still under appeal awaiting a decision.
Mr Palmer claimed Mal Brough came to him with a plan to 'destroy Peter Slipper' by having the billionaire fund a sexual harassment case against the former Speaker.
Mr Palmer said he believed Mr Brough should be exposed for the role in the affair but said claims by Peter Slipper that senior LNP figure Joe Hockey was also involved was not correct.
"Joe Hockey played no role in organising that meeting.''
"I have always found Mr Hockey to be the person of the highest integrity.''
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Mr Palmer said that he had met with Mr Brough at the Palmer Coolum Resort where Mr Brough detailed the sordid sexual harassment case against Mr Slipper.
At the time, Mr Palmer was still a life member of the LNP.
"Mal Brough said to me that we needed to destroy Peter Slipper," Mr Palmer said.
"He said he had all the evidence that would put Peter Slipper away for a long time.''
Mr Brough told the Sunshine Coast Daily that Mr Palmer's claims were 'ridiculous' and represented continual changing of alleged facts.
He has called a press conference to repond at 1pm.
Mr Palmer said the case that Mr Brough outlined included much of what had been detailed in the statement of claim in the federal court.
"To me it seemed there was no case at all against Mr Slipper... that it was something a court would entertain.''
Mr Palmer said he felt uneasy about the whole situation, especially in light of the fact that it was Mr Slipper who had been instrumental in having Mr Brough join the Liberal Party.
"The sort of issues were raised went to his integrity of his marriage and family.
"There should be an unspoken law not to attack people on these sort of grounds.
"I want to make it absolutely clear that Mr Hockey played no role in these discussions.''
Mr Palmer said Mr Hockey, who was holidaying at the resort, did join them at the end of the conversation for a coffee in which he talked about golf and 'how good the food was' at the resort.
Mr Palmer said Mr Brough also asked him to employ a number of people, believed to include media officer Karen Doane.
He was adamant that Mr Brough asked him to fund the case, despite denials from Mr Brough to the Daily on Wednesday night.
Mr Palmer said Mr Brough also asked him to come to a meeting with senior Liberal David Russell, QC, the following day.
Mr Palmer did not support anything Mr Brough had done in relation to Mr Slipper.
"Everyone person has to be presumed innocent until he is found guilty.
"We don't want people in politics who are desperate to get there at any price.
"People should become the butt of other people's jokes because they are different,'' he said of Mr Slipper.
The Slipper case needs to stand as an example to politicians everywhere,'' he said.
Mr Palmer also claimed Mr Brough had organised 'paid lobbyist' Ted O'Brien to run against him in Fairfax."
"That may be the cost of not agreeing to fund the Ashby case," he said.
However, a spokesperson for Mr O'Brien today said the claim was not supported by the facts.
"Mr Palmer announced he would run as a candidate in Fairfax on April 26 this year, but Mr O'Brien was endorsed by the LNP on the November 19 last year" the spokesperson said.
When asked why he was finally revealing the funding request now, just before an election, Mr Palmer said he believed it was time to clear the air.
"People should not lie in politics,'' Mr Palmer said.
Mr Palmer said there was no direct mention of how much would be needed but he imagined that it being a federal case it would require up to $500,000.
Palmer to drop bombshell on Mal Brough
MINING magnate Clive Palmer is set to drop a political bombshell on Mal Brough, alleging the LNP candidate asked the billionaire for money to fund the failed sexual harassment case against Mr Brough's rival Peter Slipper.
Mr Palmer has called a press conference for this morning in Brisbane to detail allegations against Mr Brough.
But the Daily understands he will clear Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, despite claims from Mr Slipper that Mr Hockey was also involved.
The Daily understands Mr Palmer will, for the first time, allege Mr Brough directly approached him for funding for the James Ashby case during a meeting at the Palmer Coolum Resort.
Mr Hockey was on holidays at the resort at the time.
Mr Brough last night rejected outright approaching Mr Palmer for money.
However, he did confirm he had lunch with both Mr Palmer and Mr Hockey.
And he said the James Ashby case may have been discussed.
"I never asked him for any money whatsoever," Mr Brough said.
He said he only went to the resort to catch up with Mr Hockey during his Coast holiday.
Mr Brough has come under fire from a judge for his role in helping Mr Ashby, a former staffer with Mr Slipper, over claims the former Speaker sexually harassed him through hundreds of lewd text messages.
Mr Slipper and online activists have claimed Mr Brough was involved in a conspiracy with Mr Ashby to bring him and the Gillard government down.
In a speech to Parliament on June 27, Mr Slipper said he had recently had a ''very interesting conversation'' with Mr Palmer over breakfast at the Palmer Coolum Resort.
''I do recall that Mr Palmer mentioned to me at that time that about Easter last year Mr Brough, accompanied by the member for North Sydney [Mr Hockey], came to see Mr Palmer to ask him to fund James Ashby's legal fees with respect to the litigation, of which most people listening would be aware,'' Mr Slipper said.
Mr Hockey told Parliament that Mr Slipper's account was ''patently untrue''.
''I have never met Mr Ashby. I did not know of Mr Ashby,'' he said.
Mr Brough was asked again about his role in the James Ashby affair at a meet-the-candidates forum in Kawana on Tuesday night.
He compared the case to a suicidal man coming to him for help and said he would do the same for anyone.
Mr Hockey has previously told media the Ashby case was not discussed at the resort.
"When I met with Mal Brough - as I have met with Mal Brough on numerous occasions - this matter has not been discussed, it has never been raised with me," Mr Hockey said.
Justice Rares, in his judgment, found that Mr Ashby and (media adviser) Karen Doane worked "in combination with Mr Brough to cause Mr Slipper as much political and public damage as they could inflict on him".
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has previously backed Mr Brough, saying he was "confident he (Mr Brough) has acted rightly at all times".