The trials and tribulations of James Ashby

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Ross Jones was at court for the next round of the Slipper vs Ashby case — and he says we should spare a thought for James.

Anthony McClellan deals with the media outside court today.
James Ashby's PR man Anthony McClellan deals with the media outside court today.

SPARE A THOUGHT for James Ashby.

For him, this whole Gate thing must be like a slow motion car crash. Rares set the airbags off, but there’s a lot more to come before the whole thing settles into a smoking pile of oily debris.

Today, a hubcap fell off.

Before Justice Emmett in the No 1 Court in Sydney’s Queen Square, representatives for Jimbo and Michael Harmer – Michael Lee SC and David Pritchard respectively – agreed they’d prefer to front the Full Bench of the Federal Court for their applications for leave to appeal to be heard.

Talk about disappointing.

Early in proceedings, Emmett J determined the hearing date for Mr Slipper’s costs would be 30 May and concluded that, because of this deadline, the Full Bench hearing would need to be held earlier in May.

The general gist is that the Federal Court will either reject or grant the applications for leave to appeal and, if either is granted, the matter(s) would be heard straight away. If rejected, well, good luck with the bills Jim because the costs hearing on 30 May will make your eyes water.

If leave to appeal is granted, Michael Lee SC will again carry the flag for the Jim team and have a go at dismantling Justice Rare’s finely crafted decision. If he wins, he’ll save his client a bit of money — but if he fails the bonnet will crumple back to the firewall and the windscreen explode.

AshbygateMr Lee does not give the impression of a man who comes cheap. Buffed, coiffed and expensively suited, one man’s car crash is another man’s gravy train.

And there is the question — who is paying Jim’s bills? And who will pay the big one on 1 June?

Other court highlights included the presence of Jim’s PR chap Anthony McClellan – who afterwards seemed to want to do anything but talk to the media – and, of course, the media themselves.

Channel 7 sent political reporter Jodie Speers, the ABC Ellesa Throwden, 2UE Jess Pellicane and SBS Sam Ikin. After the non-event that was the hearing, conducted in high legalese, all milled aimlessly until they discovered doyenne journalist Joan Evatt was there and actually knew what had happened. Once they tweaked they gathered like hungry gulls and gulped any scraps she threw their way. Most networks will carry Joan’s version of events on the news. Priceless.

On the topic of MSM, good news everyone! The Sydney Morning Herald actually mentioned Peter Slipper without adding derogatory descriptors.

It happened on Tuesday February 5. Clue 14 down of the cryptic crossword asks ‘Allen Sellers’ insolence for each convenient speaker (5,7)’. Answer, Peter Slipper.

(Read Joan Evatt's report on today's events by clicking here.)

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