A decade after he’d left Newcastle’s NXFM under a cloud in 2002, James Ashby’s luck appeared to have turned around when he landed a plum government job as media advisor to Peter Slipper who had been appointed to the post of Speaker in the House of Representatives – a controversial move that helped keep the Labor Government in office by a narrow margin, much to the frustration of the Liberal opposition.
Ashby took to his job with fervor, starting with the media he knew best. He proposed to the then Breakfast producers 2Day-FM that his boss do a soft interview with Kyle and Jackie O. He texted them saying, “I’m now advisor to the speaker of the house in Canberra. He shares one of the country’s most hated titles along with Kyle and Julia Gillard. If you’re interested in any fun exclusive with Kyle and Jackie let me know. James Ashby.”
Ashby’s enthusiasm for his new found position of power soon waned as he allegedly found himself being sexually harassed by his employer. He went on to press charges which forced Slipper to resign in October 2012. But in June this year Ashby dropped the charges citing lack of funds to pursue the case further.
But last night James Ashby re-emerged on 60 Minutes to turn the tables on the Liberal Party, and in particular Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, who had encouraged him to lay charges against Slipper in the first place.
According to Ashby, Pyne had offered to cover his legal fees as well as find him a job in state politics if he were to go ahead with taking Slipper to court.
The offer, however, came with a threat. Ashby revealed to 60 Minutes reporter Liz Hayes that Pyne had told him, “If you discuss or tell anyone we’ve had this discussion I’ll be forced to come out publicly and call you a pathological liar.”
See the full 60 Minutes segment here.
Read more on James Ashby dating back to 2002 including our interview with him after he left NXFM and attended court for harassing a rival announcer.