Slipper sheds tears in Sydney court

Former Speaker Peter Slipper.
Former Speaker Peter Slipper. Warren Lynam

A DISTRAUGHT Peter Slipper battled tears today as he pleaded with a Sydney judge to put a stop to the sexual harassment case being brought against him by the former staffer he considered a friend.

Apologising for "expressing emotion", Mr Slipper told the court he was beside himself over the "dressed up" allegations designed to destabilise the government and destroy his career and marriage.

He said he was "gob smacked" when he first found out about the lawsuit as Mr Ashby "had never raised with me any level of concern".

He described the relationship between he and Mr Ashby, who paid regular visits to his home and was friends with him and his wife, as "very pleasant".

He struggled to remain composed as he expressed his affection for his wife and revealed how the case had impacted his life.

"I love my wife very much, your honour," Mr Slipper said.

"I loved the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives…I wanted to make a difference in Parliament."

It was the second time Mr Slipper represented himself since dumping his legal team last week.

Yesterday he said the case should be thrown out as an abuse of process, as the allegations were "not about sexual harassment" but at attempt to harm his reputation, destabilise the government of Australia and aid his political opponents.

Barrister Michael Lee, for Ashby, rejected Mr Slipper's "conspiracy" theory and said Mr Ashby reached breaking point when he was asked by the Speaker "can I kiss you both?"

Justice Steven Rares said he was concerned Mr Ashby's team may have abused the process in another way.

He questioned why unsubstantiated claims, that Mr Slipper had been witnessed handing unsigned Cabcharges to a driver, had been made when there could have been a "perfectly innocent explanation".

The Director of Public Prosecutions is yet to make a decision on the allegations.

Justice Rares has reserved his decision until the DPP's position is made clear.

Topics:  court james ashby peter slipper sexual harassment

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