Mal Brough.
Mal Brough.

Brough comes clean

FORMER Howard government minister, senior Sunshine Coast LNP official Mal Brough, has acknowledged three meetings with James Ashby before the Slipper staffer laid a complaint of sexual harassment against his boss.

But Mr Brough said Labor claims he was party to a conspiracy were way off the mark and detracted from the main issues.

He yesterday laid out a timeline of his contact with Mr Ashby who has sued Mr Slipper for sexual harassment and has alleged the stood-down Speaker rorted his parliamentary expenses.

Mr Brough said the harassment allegations and claims of fraud against the Commonwealth by Mr Slipper remained the key issues.

He said allegations of mis-use by Mr Slipper of his parliamentary entitlements stretched back decades and needed thorough examination.

"I got a call from James Ashby on March 23," Mr Brough said.

"I said I would ring him back. I spoke to Sue (his wife) and she said I should only talk to him with the two of us there. Mr Ashby came and spoke for three hours but danced around and didn't come to it.

"He had been here quite some time before he outlined some of the allegations.

"He talked about the Cabcharge stuff and wanted advice on whether it was an offence not to report a crime if you thought one had occurred."

Mr Brough said at his second meeting with Mr Ashby he had told him he needed him to explain exactly what it was about.

"What he had to say was very confronting," he said.

"I said if he believed a crime had occurred he should go to the police. And I told him to get legal advice."

Mr Brough said the pair had a third meeting on Good Friday. He had arranged someone to be there, whom he did not name, who he said knew about legal matters.

"Mr Ashby took us through everything and said he had arranged lawyers himself who he would meet the next Tuesday," he said.

"I rang him and he said he was going to Sydney to meet lawyers."

Mr Brough said he made several attempts to contact Mr Ashby but calls went unreturned until the former Slipper staffer rang to say he was with lawyers and was all right.

Mr Brough re-iterated he had from the start advised Mr Ashby to get legal advice and to go to the police.

Mr Brough denied any knowledge of the planning, placement or those involved in running television attack ads against Sunshine Coast mayoral candidate Michael Bloyce.

"I had zero to do with it," Mr Brough said.

Mr Brough also said he had "absolutely nothing" to do with Mark Jamieson's campaign until the week before the polls.