UPDATE: Peter Slipper has announced he will stand aside as Speaker of the House of Representatives while he defends allegations of fraud, after it was claimed he handed out blank cab charge dockets to a driver in Sydney. He says his decision to stand aside has nothing to do with the claim that he sexually harassed a male staff member.
He released a statement saying he “emphatically” denied the allegations. “The allegations include both a claim of criminal behaviour and claim under civil law,” he said. “As such, I believe it is appropriate for me to stand aside as Speaker while this criminal allegation is resolved.”
He said the allegations of fraud were incorrect and that he would return to the speakership “once it is clear they are untrue”.
On the harassment allegations, he said: “In relation to the civil matter there will be an appropriate process that will resolve the matter in due course.”
The Prime Minister released a statement late this afternoon saying “It is appropriate that Mr Slipper has stood aside whilst criminal conduct is investigated.”
Yesterday, Lauren Dubois wrote:
From the moment Peter Slipper was “reluctantly” dragged into the Speakers chair with his sparkling white bow tie and his dubious history as a Liberal turncoat with a creative approach to expense management, we knew he was going to be a “character”.
We laughingly called him names like “Slippery Pete”, “Slipperace” and “The Rat”. We made jokes about his look-at-moi behaviour. When he re-introduced the Speaker’s Procession we clutched our sides, squealing about what he’d do next. Heralding trumpets beside the speaker’s chair? A gospel choir in the public gallery to rejoice in the righteousness of his rulings? We genuinely hoped he’d keep the game going, perhaps introducing a furry purple hat and cane, P.I.M.P style…. Definitely a novelty sized clock around his neck.
It was all in good fun. He added some much needed colour to parliament and he ended up being a surprisingly effective Speaker.
Now the fun and games are over. Peter Slipper has been accused of sexually harassing his male media adviser.
James Ashby has launched a federal court case against his boss and the Government, seeking compensation. Mr Ashby believes he was hired specifically because he is gay and Peter Slipper, who is married with children, wanted a sexual relationship with him.
The court documents detail a series of text messages and personal conversations that range from the creepy “If you interested we could be closer?” to the horrifically offensive “Have you ever come in a guy’s arse before?”
As soon as James Ashby took the media adviser role in December, he says Slipper became inappropriate. Just a couple of weeks after starting Slipper asked him for a neck massage, groaning in a sexual way until he stopped.
Slipper insisted Ashby move into his Canberra flat with him, and allegedly called him a prude for showering with the door closed. Ashby says Slipper would always shower and use the toilet with the door open.
The text messages that Ashby has submitted in the documents are uncomfortable to read. Ashby says he found it bizarre that his boss would end his messages with ‘xxx’.
It’s the accounts of conversations between the two which are the most damning (and will be the hardest to prove), including one where Slipper asked Ashby, “Twinks or bears – what are you into?”, which refers to different types of gay partners.
Tony Abbott has demanded that Peter Slipper stand down while the investigation continues.
“We now have a Government in Canberra that is dependent for its survival on two Members of Parliament, Craig Thomson and now Peter Slipper, who both face investigation over very serious allegations,” he said. “This is a tawdry state of affairs, to say the least.”