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Today was day two of the latest James Ashby legal jamboree in the Federal Court in Sydney. As ever, Ross Jones was IA's eyes in the gallery.

[Read Ross Jones' report from Day 1.]

Mr and Mrs Slipper.
The haunted faces of Mr and Mrs Slipper.


EVERYONE turned up and took the same seats. There was some legal argument. His honours announced they were retiring to consider their verdict, to be delivered on an unannounced date at an unannounced place. We all left.

If you care to, take a look at http://www.fedcourt.gov.au/case-management-services/access-to-files-and-transcripts/court-documents/ashby-v-commonwealth, apart from one or two judge jokes, it’s all there. Riveting it’s not, but there’s a few nuggets if you have a couple of hours to spare. The word 'conspirators' does crop up.

Slipper’s barrister Ian Neil, who took up the morning’s proceedings, seemed to give a good account of himself, but what would I know?

Neil’s conclusion, in part, was that
'…there is no occasion for doubt that the Primary Judgement might be wrong in any sense asserted by Mr Ashby. It is a meticulously crafted exercise in fact finding. For that reason, it is submitted that Mr Ashby should be refused leave to appeal. If, contrary to the foregoing, leave is granted, then it is submitted that the appeal should be dismissed, with costs.'

Neil had a go at Harmer too:
'As to Mr Harmer’s appeal, it is submitted that he should be refused leave to appeal, either because he does not have standing to appeal, or because, if he does, the Primary Judgement does not warrant leave. If, contrary to the foregoing, then it is submitted that the appeal should be dismissed, with costs.'

Note the word "costs". I’m going to risk a cliché and say "gravy train"; 2 x SCs @ $8,000 a day? Juniors, dunno, but more than the average wage. Then there’s clerks, the well-dressed staff who push the file barrows and a few more besides. Multiply that by all the hearings. The number you just thought of is way too low.

James Ashby's PR guru chats with The Guardian's David Marr.
James Ashby's PR guru chats with The Guardian's David Marr.


Messrs Lee and Pritchard had another go after Mr Neil finished, then it was a rap and, with smiles all round – except from Mr and Mrs Slipper, who had to endure the rehashing of the tawdry allegations – that was it.

The pressure on the Slippers is obvious. I’m no Ray Hadley when it comes to perspicacity, but I know ground-down unhappiness when I see it.

As MSM users will know, Ashby’s PR man Anthony McClellan has been effectively liaising with the media and it was a treat to watch a pro at work.

Was it an appeal or a leave to appeal? Don't know really. Originally, there was to be leave to appeal followed by appeal if successful, but these seem to have been seamlessly merged. Neil refers to leave to appeal, similarly Ashby's submission concludes, in part:
'The application for leave to appeal ought be granted (sic) and the appeal allowed with costs.'

There's that word again.

So did His Honours hear an appeal? I got the gist that if matters do proceed past this decision then the matter will proceed to trial. But what do I know?

(Read Joan Evatt's interesting take on this trial on the Australians for Honest Politics website.)

Click on the image to catch up on IA's full Ashbygate investigation.
Click on the image to catch up on IA's full Ashbygate investigation.


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