Darryn Smith

Palmer denies confirming approach on Ashby payment

CLIVE Palmer says he met with Mal Brough and Joe Hockey at his Coolum resort last year - but claims that he was asked to fund James Ashby's sexual harassment case against former parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper remain a mystery.

Reports on Friday suggested Mr Palmer had backed up Mr Slipper's claim that Mr Brough and Mr Hockey had sought money for Mr Ashby's lawsuit.

But a spokesman for the mining magnate told APN Newsdesk this was not the case.

"All he's ever confirmed is that ... they did meet at Palmer Coolum Resort at Easter last year," the spokesman said.

The spokesman said Mr Palmer, who was still a member of the Liberal National Party at the time of the meeting, had not provided a cent to Mr Ashby's case, adding: "He'd (Mr Palmer) never even heard of James Ashby at that stage."

But he could not say whether the law suit, launched in April last year, had been discussed.

"Who knows what was raised - it was a long time ago," the spokesman said.

Mr Slipper raised the allegation on Thursday during his "precautionary" valedictory speech, during which he also called for a royal commission into what he described as the "Ashbygate" matter.

The Member for Fisher, who is yet to decide whether he will recontest the seat, quit as speaker last year after lewd text messages he sent Mr Ashby were made public during the sexual harassment case.

Mr Ashby's claims were later rejected by the court. He has appealed the decision.

Mr Hockey denied the claims on Thursday, while Mr Brough has been contacted for comment.



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