My Twitter interview with #Ashby’s media adviser

James Ashby (left) with Anthony McClellan after the Federal Court ruling on December 12. Photo: Wolter Peeters, Fairfax

James Ashby (left) with Anthony McClellan after the Federal Court ruling on December 12. Their moneyman Michael Harmer stands behind.’ Photo: Wolter Peeters, Fairfax

By Margo Kingston

May 3, 2013

Mr Anthony McClellan followed me this morning, after I tweeted on the #Ashby appeal. His invitation to talk. So I threw him some questions and he threw me some answers. We’ve published the interview for the record here.

It is interesting that he chose to speak for Ashby lawyers Harmers on the $millions question of who is bankrolling Ashby’s case. The amount of damages awarded on court success could not cover the enormous costs involved, and perhaps not even the solicitor-client costs remaining if the Court ordered Slipper to pay party-party costs. Another mystery is why, if Harmers was carrying costs out of goodwill to poor Ashby, as claimed, perhaps tongue in cheek, by McClellan, the firm chose the most expensive and risky route possible to pursue his claim – an action in the Federal Court.

Rares judgement states that McClellan’s clients are Ashby and Doane, so why did he answer, at least in part, questions about Harmers’ funding? And what evidence does he rely on as the basis for his statements?

Naturally he chose to answer some questions and not others. He stated that he was retained by Ashby’s lawyer Harmers and has not yet been paid. He stated that Harmers were carrying the costs, and there were ‘no pledges’ of support from 3rd parties. He confirmed the truth of the Rares judgement concerning him.

Rares’ judgement states:

‘Mr Harmer recommended that Mr Ashby engage Mr McClellan as his media consultant to handle dealings with the media because Mr Slipper would be a high profile respondent in the intended proceedings. Mr Ashby and Ms Doane engaged Mr McClellan at $550 per hour plus GST on a no win no fee basis.’

These are the questions he chose not to answer:

Whether he could guarantee that no-one else would chip in funds to cover Harmer’s costs.

Who asked Harmers to take the job.

Why he agreed to deferred payment.

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  1. Sandra Searle (@SandraSearle) says

    Perhaps that TA instigated ‘slush’ fund for getting rid of Pauline Hansen is still in existence. Has anyone bothered to find out whether it does or not?
    Pretty messy business IMHO.

    • The question for Abbott is not has he set up a slush fund for Ashby
      Nor is it “Does he have any knowledge of a slush fund for Ashby ”

      The question that someone must ask Abbott is “Have you asked your party if anyone has any knowledge of a slush fund being set up or run” And “If you have no tasked this question WHY NOT ?”

  2. Sandra, Abbott told AEC he wound it up and returned unused funds to his secret donors.

  3. Maureen Searson says

    Margo, thanks for your persistent investigative work on this matter.

    Do you think, it is at all possible that, the truth of the extent to which TA/Brough/Doane/News Ltd etc have lowered themselves to destroy the democratically elected minority government will be made public in the coming months…before the election?

    Only this morning on Insiders, a photo of TA’s minders spying from a distance at one of Prime Minister Gillard events was commented on as “slightly insidious”.

    These guys were pretending to be camera men, they were dressed with shirts hanging out, they had cameras etc, instead of their usual suited attire.

    They were asked to leave, but their deception was a disgrace!

    Just wondering if this issue getting any traction with the public?

    Thanks again!

  4. Hard to get traction with public if issue not pursued or reported in MSM. The public’s $52,000 Ashby trust to investigate is a start! Thinking outside the box – don’t get angry, get active!

  5. My Twitter interview with #Ashby’s media adviser