As much as Mal Brough, Rupert Murdoch's News Limited is in the Ashbygate scandal up to its neck — but don't expect to read about that anywhere else. Again, Ashbygate author Ross Jones uncovers the facts.

IN ALL the furore over Mal Brough, News Corp (formerly News Limited) has slipped under the radar — so far.

The now famous Australian Federal Police warrant also makes serious allegations against former News Limited journalist Steve “Scoop” Lewis.

At the time of the alleged offences, Scoop wasn’t a former journalist, he was a News Limited hero.

Steve – and therefore his previous employer – (unless News Corp manages to convince the world it was a lone wolf scenario) is accused of breaching the Criminal Code when he did:

‘… dishonestly influence James Hunter Ashby, being a Commonwealth public official, to disclose details from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Peter Slipper’s 2009 to 2012 official diary, without authorisation … ’

Steve Lewis to James Ashby at 11.02 a.m.: Can u chat?

Ashby: In 10 mate be in touch soon

Lewis: Mate the dates I need for Diary (daily extracts) Dec 31 2009 - Jan 9 2010 Nov 10,11 2010 Ta Steve

Ashby: Hey Karen. Would u be able to photograph with your iPhone and message the following dates to me? I'll then email to Steve if u like otherwise if u wouldn't mind sending them directly to him that would be great The dates he need from the Diary (daily extracts) are: Dec 31 2009 - Jan 9 2010 Nov 10,11 2010 Thanks James

Steve is also in the frame for providing a benefit to Ashby, a Commonwealth public official, in the form of accommodation and flights:

Ashby: Hi Steve. Do u want me to check out before I leave for the lawyers or am staying another night in the same place?

Lewis: Hi mate No stay another night OK? I will sort out payment etc Just tell hotel to book u in again and News will sort

Ashby: Ok cheers for that

And then there is this:

At 8.35 p.m., Brough emailed Doane: 

How did it go today Karen?

Karen replied immediately: 

Hi Mal,

Today went reasonably well and I believe James understood he needs to follow the legal advice to have all his facts sighted and the deposition taken (tomm) bnefore it goes to press. This ensures there are no legalities breached, which is very important for a solid case!

I think Steve Lewis would agree another day of waiting to ensure everything is as it should be is worth it

Cheers

Karen

That email portrays Lewis, a News Limited employee, as an active participant in whatever was going on.

A minute later, at 8.37 p.m., Karen told James:

Take care of yourself my friend and remember an extra 24 hours of waiting to go to press is in everyone's. best interest :-) PS I sent you an email

Ashby: Excellent thanks for that

News Corp is in this up to its neck. But it’s weird. News Corp publications have turned on Brough — though they still manage, despite all evidence to the contrary, to refer to Slipper as the “disgraced” former speaker.

But News Corp is backpedalling like a disgraced Lance Armstrong in reverse. And well might it do so. The Brough diary scandal is no more than a rat’s tail protruding from the nest — a nest so full of rodents it is tearing itself to shreds.

Three million bucks, that’s what James told me the matter cost. Who has $3 million? Bucks like that can come only from one of two sources: a rich individual or an organisation.

Not Clive Palmer — his $200,000, if contributed, would have paid for about half an hour. Harmers Workplace Lawyers, Ashby’s legal representatives would have it the firm absorbed the cost in an altruistic move to assist a legitimate whistle-blower — maybe.

Rumours did circulate in Phillip Street (Harmers Workplace Lawyers street address) speculating on Harmers’ straightened circumstances but the firm seems to be okay, fit to rescue other sufferers of misfortune.

I refer you to a wealthy organisation with a dog in the race.

The book ASHBYGATE – published by Independent Australia, 2015 – will be officially launched at 10.30 am, 10 December 2015 at the Shearwater Resort, 79 Edmund Street, Caloundra. All are welcome. Refreshments will be served.

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