James Ashby (by John Graham / @JohnGrahamArt)

Ashbygate Trust members respond, in no uncertain terms, to James Ashby's scurrilous attacks on their independence.

Earlier this month, Independent Australia launched the Ashbygate book. The launch was well attended, especially by the media, with three camera crews coming along to see Ross Jones talk about his tremendous investigation into the plot to destroy Peter Slipper.

In two of the TV news stories following the launch, Ashbygate villain James Ashby was asked for his thoughts on the book, which he implied he had read.

In one, by Sunshine Coast’s WIN News, Ashby said something that many might have found somewhat ironic:

"I think it's quite sad that some people make money from the misery of others."

In the Ten Eyewitness News story, Ashby went further, suggesting that the Ashbygate Trust was merely a Labor front:

“It is very clear that this book was clearly funded by Labor supporters.”

(Click HERE to also watch the Ten story on the launch.)

So, IA sent an email to the 438 public spirited individuals that make up the Ashbygate Trust asking them for their thoughts on Ashby's comments.

The following is an excerpt from the email:

Now, there is nothing at all wrong with being a Labor supporter, but Independent Australia is a non-partisan news source and the Ashbygate Trust is not a Labor front in any sense. For instance, I am an Ashbygate Trust member like you and I have never been a member or supporter of Labor or any other party. Ross Jones is in the same boat. I feel Ashby has rather smeared and verballed us and a whole host of other Trust members.

If you are annoyed or aggrieved by James Ashby’s deceitful and erroneous comments, please send me an email and let it out. Also, let me know if you want your comments to be anonymous, as I am going to collate them for a story to be published on IA, which I will also send on to Ashby (the twerp).

Here is a collection of some of the many comments we received back from Ashbygate Trust members concerning Ashby’s obnoxious comments.

WRONG, JAMES — THE ASHBYGATE TRUST IS NOT LABOR

You can tell Ashby from me that I have not voted for the Labor Party in 20 years. Never for the Liberal Party in my life!

John Underwood, Berry (Member #289)

I contributed to the Ashbygate Trust. I did so because of my concern of a conspiracy against Slipper in an attempt to bring down the democratically elected government of the time. I have never been a member of the Labor Party. I am not a supporter of the Labor party. While I do like very many of their policies and people I truly detest others.
I hope this clarifies my position on the matter.

K, Lake Macquarie (Member #356)

As a contributor to the Ashbygate fund, I too was insulted by James Ashby’s comments. I was strongly objecting to the waste of taxpayer funds and his interference in Australia’s democracy!!! The conceited little prick!!! And for the record I never vote Labor or LNP!! I’ve been Green for 20 years.

Mick Coates, Maldon (Member #66)

… my comment would be that though a permanent resident I can't even vote, and if I could it would be for the Greens. So Ashby should stay silent else he ensures the rest of Australia knows him for a fool.

H (Member #212)

I am peeved that James Ashby thinks that only Labor voters supported this investigation. I have voted a number of different ways over my life.

My concern was that there was a concerted effort to undermine the Speaker. I thought the evidence pointed to a conspiracy. This was being ignored by the main stream media, both Fairfax and News Ltd. l thought that this needed more looking into.

I would have supported this investigation no matter who was involved.

I have been extremely sad to see the ends people will go to gain power.

I do not think much of the integrity of politicians. I think even less of Ashby and Doane and their political masters. That Brough has anything to do with integrity is laughable.

It is one thing to imagine they might hold dirt files, it is another to realize that House of Cards has a basis in reality.

J, Geelong (Member #339)

MISERABLE ASHBY ASSUMES EVERYONE LIKE HIMSELF

Happy to respond to the “accusation” that only Labor supporters were involved in this matter.

I belong to no political party - never have. Ashby assumes everyone is about partisan politics & self-interest.

I was motivated to support good people working to find the truth regarding Ashby and Slipper.

Justice Rares’ summation of the case was excellent and vindicated the reasoning that led to the formation of the Independent Trust in the first place.

Patricia Saul, Kew (Member #267)

… how ironic that James Ashby spoke of making money from another’s misery! Many who have been interested in "Ashbygate" are moved by exactly the same impulse - the cruelty of calculated disgrace and humiliation - which is what James Ashby and others set out to inflict on Peter Slipper. Feel free to tell him I said so!!

Shirley Begley (Ashbygate Trust member #393)

ASHBY’S BILIOUS INSULT TYPICAL DIVERSION BY DEMOCRACY FOE

I have voted across the political spectrum, so hardly a Labor lackey. Typical ploy by James Ashby. Try and obscure the truth by attacking the investigators. Simple question “Did he copy Mr Slipper’s notes?”

I supported Ashbygate because there seemed a wrong that needed to be righted and which went to the heart our democracy. Would do the same irrespective of which political party/parties was/were involved.

Gerald Richards, Mt Martha (member #324)

As a member of the Ashbygate Trust I am a supporter of free and open democratic process. I joined because judges had identified a clear case of a conspiracy to unseat the speaker and by extension overthrow the legitimate government of Australia. Was this a case of sedition? Was this a treasonous act perpetrated by elected officials? It certainly looked like it and it more than any other case in the last twenty years deserved thorough investigation as the perpetrators, if unchallenged, would be in charge of our law making. 

To imply my actions were driven by a loyalty to another team is a bilious insult, a pathetic distraction and a feeble act displaying the cancerous attitudes that have undermined our highest institutions. 

Step down.

Robert, Victoria (Member #327)

I made my contribution, as like many folk, I sadly miss the old world of independent investigative journalism. Events such as this tarnishing our system of government can't go by without a forensic analysis - and not being just left to the sensationalism pumped up and out by the MSM.

As to Ashby's comments of funding by Labor supporters, I'm not particularly annoyed or aggrieved by these. The facts are the important and relevant matter. His broad generalisation on the source of funding does nothing to diminish the facts, regardless of his poor "Yes Minister" style attempt to smear the book in some way. Indeed, he probably does himself no credit by such comments of diversion away from the substance. Unsurprisingly, it is not really unexpected.

G (Member #450)

JAMES ASHBY’S COMMENTS DOUBLY OFFENSIVE

As I contributed to the crowdfunding of Ross Jones’ book I take offence at this statement. Not just because of the offence against English sentence construction but also because, while I do support the Labor Party—and any other political party that puts forward or supports legislation that addresses the issues that concern me, I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Labor Party or any other political party. I vote for the local candidate that speaks of the issues that concern me and who convinces me of their integrity.

I somehow doubt that this Ashby character would understand that. I doubt that he understands what “integrity" means. I was moved to contribute to the crowdfunding of the book because I had read the articles in Independent Australia and was disturbed by the tactics of those attacking Peter Slipper. The role of Ashby, in this concerted attack, was central to that and, while I have no great affection for Slipper, I supported the exposition by Ross Jones and Independent Australia as I believed (and still do) that the campaign against Slipper was not just an attack of the man but was also an assault on democracy.   

Ludwig Heinrich (Member #423)

APPALLING JAMES ASHBY — SYMBOL OF SELFISHNESS

Meryl Nell said she was a “very private person”, but was so incensed by Ashby’s comments, she was prepared to sacrifice this to go on the record:

I am an Ashbygate Trust contributor and at sixty nine years of age, I am not now nor ever have been a Labor Party member or supporter.  Even though I am a pensioner, I contributed to the Trust because I was appalled and disgusted by the behaviour of all those named by Justice Rares as complicit in attempting to bring down the government of the day.  I am a very private person but in this instance I do not wish to remain anonymous. 

James Ashby symbolises everything that is wrong with so many of the young people of today in that he obviously feels that any ends justifies the means when looking out for himself and his future.  My family members are in the main employed in service industries including teaching, nursing and policing and it galls me to see the way today’s society allows actions such as those taken by James Ashby, Karen Doane and Mal Brough to do what they did, aided and abetted by the MSM, with no concern that they will be brought to justice. 

I know some commenters on IA believe that justice will prevail but I am not so sure about that.  The same thing applies to Kathy Jackson and her partner, they obviously have no concerns that they will face criminal proceedings....

Meryl Nell (Member #93)

IA GOES WHERE OTHERS FEAR TO TREAD

I am a long term resident and "pollie wonk" of the Sunny Coast (Fairfax), appalled by Slipper's overt sense of entitlement and the tragic state of politics Sunnycoast wide....at all three levels.

THEN Ashby explodes onto this rancid scene. The SC Daily and 7 News (Rob, Mal's brother, reads the news) were highly unlikely to air the controversy that became Ashbygate, and there was IA pursuing and uncovering the facts.

I could only laugh when 7 News wasn't present at the book launch. Must be embarrassing for Rob to have to read the dirt on his brother?

Great work from all.

@bolwen (Member #195)

ASHBY AND HIS SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOUR: SHADOW OF CONSPIRACY

I am concerned that James Ashby appears to regard the Ashbygate Trust members as Labor supporters, and by doing so allows himself to brush off the very considerable concerns so many people, including myself, have about his part in the attacks on Peter Slipper when Mr Slipper was Speaker of the Australian Parliament.

I am not a Labor supporter. I am a supporter of appropriate behaviour, correct and appropriate use of legal resources, and the Aussie ‘Fair Go’.  I am a viewer of Australian politics, not greatly involved.

Over the years I have had a moderate amount of experience supporting and assisting people who have experienced inequity, discrimination, or harassment (bullying and sexual harassment) in the workplace. While I am willing to be corrected by someone with more experience and training in such matters, based on my own involvements in resolution of inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, there is an aspect of the matter not mentioned in your book that has concerned me.

If the quotes from James and the copies of his texts given in the book are a fair sample of what he has said / written about his experiences then I have to say they differ in tone and in content from what I would expect from a victim of such behaviours. James' expressions come closer to the ‘style’ of those individuals I have dealt with who, once matters were investigated, were identified as bullies / harassers who chose - for whatever reason - to present their role as being the victim.  It also seems (now I have read the book) James started his diarising of incidents very early in the piece - not, I think, a typical behaviour for victims, even those with some previous experience of dealing with bullying / harassment. The more usual thing is for victims to go through a phase where they just want it all to go away - they try to withdraw from conflict, and they often do not diarise until someone strongly advises they do so.

It was James' demeanour that first gave me a 'heads up'. I did not know Peter Slipper, other than from some rather negative comments about his reputation that I heard from a friend.  I had read a few Ashbygate articles, but was only slightly interested until I started to get a sense of James’ involvement. Mal Brough was a name I hardly recognised - although I had real qualms about his Intervention - but that was par for the course for the Howard Government, so no stand-out there. 

If James wants to show that he is the innocent party he first needs to explain the inconsistencies in his accounts, the inconsistencies between his accounts and others’ accounts and inconsistencies between his accounts and evidence of diaries and other documents. Additionally why is it that once Peter Slipper was brought down, and despite all the talk of following through with the legal proceedings, they were dropped at the earliest moment. Victims of abuse need recognition of the situation they have survived - the up-in-the-air, nothing given clarity is state of matters that would upset many people (look at Peter Slipper’s slide with all this hanging over him). The ball is in James’ court and it is James who is choosing not to play it.   

When asked for comment on the legal matters especially, James has given statements that had so much spin they could rival a perpetual motion machine. Is that how innocent victims behave when vindicated? Politically calculated spin? And not following up to ensure the matter is properly completed? It seems to me that it is likely that the ‘near miss’ of being labeled as a political conspirator attempting to bring down an Australian Government was too close to the truth to risk having the rather patchy and inconsistent evidence tested. (What is the explanation for the texts that seem to be missing from the phone log?)

If he wants to get rid of the shadow of conspiracy he also needs to explain the funding of the very expensive legal proceedings, also the support he received while the legal processes were undertaken - living away from home, in hotels, etc, is not a cheap option - nor is having a ‘minder’.

Sorry - but that is my response to being brushed off by someone who has been asked to account for themselves after pushing themselves into a very public and costly bun-fight (he could have gone through proper channels - or at least tried them first). He has damaged people and the Australian government - he should to be less  dismissive when asked to account for himself.

M (Member #331)

Merry Christmas, James Ashby, from the Ashbygate Trust. 

Purchase the original John Graham artwork featured in this piece from the IA store HERE.

Find out where you can buy the Ashbygate paperback or eBook by clicking HERE.

You can follow managing editor Dave Donovan on Twitter @davrosz

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