But how much do you trust James Ashby, Pauline? (Image by Anna Broinowski via sbs.com.au)

In an abusive, expletive-strewn tirade, Ashbygate plotter James Ashby bans Independent Australia from speaking to his new host, reports managing editor Dave Donovan.

LAST WEEK, we reported that the indolent Australian Federal Police had dropped its investigation into the diary-stealing antics of Mal Brough and James Ashby. Does that mean Ashbygate is all over? No, it does not. There is more to come, mark my words.

Yet it seems that Brough's co-conspirator James Ashby has become even further emboldened by these developments. Even so far as blacklisting Independent Australia from speaking to his new host, One Nation, as well as insulting and abusing IA and its writers.

What happened?

Well, as you may have read on IA last Saturday (8/10/16), Independent Australia political correspondent Dr Martin Hirst recently asked numerous Senate crossbenchers how they would react to a reborn Tony Abbott-led government.

It was a straight question, but when Dr Hirst tried to put it to the head of the One Nation Party, her former pilot, now media advisor – and perhaps soon-to-be senator – James Ashby, responded with insult, abuse and profanity.

When Hirst initially identified himself as writing for IA, Ashby replied:

"I have no interest in talking to you fuckheads."

It is easy to understand why James Ashby might be ill-disposed towards Independent Australia and not want us to talk to Pauline Hanson. Our years of investigation into “Ashbygate”, culminating in Ross Jones’ outstanding book of the same name, clearly showed that, while working for Peter Slipper Ashby was also working undercover as an agent of the Liberal Party to undermine and destroy the then speaker. Something he succeeded in doing.

But Dr Martin Hirst wasn’t interested in this. He was simply trying to get a story about Tony Abbott and was too tough and too experienced to simply give up at the first obstacle.

So he tried texting Ashby to this effect:

James,

I was not here when Wixxy [sic: Dr Hirst meant Ross Jones] was beating on you. I want to talk to you about Abbott coming back. This is a new ballgame. Surely you and I can be civil. I have no interest in asking you about Slipper, Brough or AFP.

I want a relationship with you as Pauline’s media contact.

How else can I get to her?

Are you going to put IA on some blacklist?

Your call but I can’t see the value in that for your boss.

Ashby’s response:

‘I’m not interested thanks’.

Martin Hirst tried again:

James, you are the facilitator and gatekeeper.

You are not Pauline or the party.

I want Pauline’s views and I have to go through you to get them.

Just do your job and put me thru or provide a statement.

I don’t give a shit about #ashbygate.

You should respect the journo-minder relationship, get over yourself and take my call.

You’re not doing yourself or Pauline a favour by being a prick.

Ashby:

'You’re not a reputable news outlet. Don’t contact me again.'

Not reputable? Really?

Martin made one more attempt:

'FYI, I’ve been a journo for 30 years, including a stint in the press gallery and IA is a member of the press council. I’m confident in my reputation and ethics.'

It was then that Ashby’s claws really came out:

Congratulations on your appointment to IA. You’ve now been tarred with the IA brush, so we have no interest in facilitating any media opportunities for your grub of a so-called “news service”.

I’m asking you for the very final time, do not contact me again.

Grub, eh? Well, we know from Ashby’s good friend Christopher Pyne what that means.

It’s not clear what Ashby intended to do if Dr Hirst did contact him again. Maybe launch a sexual harassment case against him? Copy and pass on his diary, perhaps? It’s hard to say.

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As with Pauline Hanson, James Ashby was right behind his former boss, Speaker Peter Slipper (Image via The Australian)

In any case, IA has emailed this exchange to Ashby’s boss, Pauline Hanson, to ask her how she feels about her “media advisor” shutting out legitimate news organisations simply to satisfy his own hurt feelings, pent-up anger and self-preservation.

James Ashby is a particularly dangerous and volatile character — one who loves to make things blow up. And if Pauline Hanson isn’t careful, that is exactly what will happen to One Nation — as happened once before. One Nation as it is now may not last long with James Ashby calling the shots.

And let’s not forget Ashby’s longstanding links to the Liberal Party. Just who is Ashby working for? If his exchange with Dr Martin Hirst is any guide, he is working for himself — for motives unknown.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson was emailed with the full exchange between Dr Martin Hirst and James Ashby on Sunday night (9/10/16)

Ms Hanson was asked the following:

We would very much like to include comment by you on the behaviour of James Ashby in response to Dr Hirst, which involved insults, abuse and profanity.

Our questions to you would be:

1. Is Mr Ashby’s blacklisting of Independent Australia official policy of the One Nation party?

2. Do you approve of Mr Ashby’s profane and insulting comments to Dr Martin Hirst and about Independent Australia?

3. Is this sort of conduct what you would regard as acceptable and professional behaviour by representatives of your organisation?

4. Do you think it is appropriate that your media advisor would allow his personal life and grievances to impact upon his professional conduct for your organisation.

It is unclear whether James Ashby, as Pauline Hanson’s media advisor, would be able to intercept this email and stop Ms Hanson seeing, so we also copied in the three other One Nation senators. In any case, no response has thus far been received by anyone from One Nation.

We know from our investigations into Ashbygate, James Ashby sought to dominate former Speaker Peter Slipper by ruthlessly controlling the flow of information into his office. It begs some further questions. Firstly, just how much control does the angry, volatile James Ashby now exercise over One Nation? Is Ashby doing what he did before — working undercover for the Liberal Party, or perhaps parts thereof? And, finally, is One Nation being driven towards a cliff, like it was the last time Hanson sat in Parliament?

Hold on tight, Pauline. You could be in for another rough landing.

Listen the latest exclusive subscribers’ only Independent Australia podcast, where we look into the background and character of One Nation’s new media advisor James Ashby, including via an excerpt from Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones' incisive investigative book 'Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia's Speaker’.

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Access the podcast by becoming a subscriber for as little as $5 a month HERE. You can also purchase the Ashbygate book HERE.

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