|General Secretary of Pauline Hanson's|
|Assumed office |
4 April 2017
|Preceded by||Jim Savage|
James Hunter Ashby
1979 (aged 37–38)
Nambour, Queensland, Australia
|Political party||Pauline Hanson's One Nation|
|Liberal National (2011–2014)|
|Residence||Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia|
|Occupation||Print media company director|
(Newa Printing Pty Ltd)
Public relations manager
(4RO, Sea FM, Triple M, NXFM, 4TO FM, Hot FM)
James Hunter Ashby (born 1979) is an Australian political advisor and former radio presenter, best known for the "Ashbygate" political scandal involving the former Speaker of the House, Peter Slipper. He is currently the chief of staff for Pauline Hanson, the leader of Pauline Hanson's One Nation political party, and the One Nation party secretary.
He began his career at a community station at Buderim on the Sunshine Coast, before moving to commercial radio. Ashby worked at a commercial radio station in Roma before quitting after six weeks due to the hot weather. He then worked in Gympie and on the Sunshine Coast before moving to Rockhampton.
During 1999 and 2000, he co-hosted the breakfast program on local AM radio station 4RO. In April 2000, Ashby's co-host Olivia Scott became embroiled in controversy when she read a mock apology to the Stolen Generations on air, which was sent in by a listener. Scott was suspended and the station was found to have breached its licence conditions as the content racially vilified Aboriginal Australians. Scott was suspended during the investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Authority and when she was reinstated, she was required to read an on-air apology. Ashby has said that watching Scott endure the media attention associated with the controversy without being able to help her was the lowest point of his radio career.
While he was in Rockhampton, RG Capital, the owners of 4RO were issued with a new FM licence enabling the company to establish a Sea FM station for the area to provide listeners with an FM alternative to 4RO. Ashby was tasked with helping set up the station, and became the new station's first announcer in October 2000, co-hosting the breakfast show with Joanne Spargo. He remained with Sea FM in Rockhampton until October 2001 when he was dismissed by station management. Reasons for his departure remain unclear but local media reported at the time that Ashby was considering taking legal action against the station following his dismissal. Ashby has since admitted he left Sea FM on bad terms, and was told that he would never work in radio again.
After leaving Rockhampton, he worked at Triple M in Brisbane for six months before moving to Newcastle where he was a drive announcer on NXFM. In October 2002, Ashby resigned from NXFM after he was charged with verbally harassing another radio presenter at rival station, NEW FM. It was alleged that Ashby made four offensive phone calls. Ashby said he received a $2060 fine and a three-year good behaviour bond as punishment.
Before becoming media advisor for Peter Slipper, Ashby was employed as marketing manager for Gowinta Farms on the Sunshine Coast. In May 2011, Ashby appeared in media coverage, after an attempted poisoning of the crops on the farm, after poison was discovered in a water tank.
James Ashby rose to prominence when he made allegations that he was sexually harassed by Federal MP, Peter Slipper. In 2012, Ashby alleged that while working as Peter Slipper's media advisor, he was the victim of sexual harassment which consisted of unwanted sexual advances, hundreds of suggestive text messages and a request to shower with the door open in a Canberra unit.
In December 2012, the Federal Court dismissed the allegations. However, in February 2014, Ashby won an appeal against the decision to dismiss the case. Then, in June 2014, Ashby decided to drop the lawsuit entirely less than two weeks before it was due to commence. At the time, Peter Slipper said he viewed Ashby's decision to withdraw the opportunity to have the allegations tested in court, as being vindicated against any wrongdoing. Several months later, Ashby said in a television interview that he had been promised a job and legal funding by Slipper's former party colleague, Christopher Pyne, after telling him of the sexual harassment.
In 2015, the Australian Federal Police raided the home of James Ashby, and the home of Ashby's parents, during an investigation into allegations that former Federal MP Mal Brough illegally obtained copies of diaries belonging to Peter Slipper, ahead of James Ashby's sexual harassment case. The search warrants also related to any material associating Federal MP's Christopher Pyne and Wyatt Roy, who were both suspected of offering James Ashby inducements to complain about Peter Slipper. Following the raids, James Ashby agreed to be formally interviewed by police about the allegations of copying diaries belonging to Peter Slipper. After the scandal, Ashby retreated to Yeppoon, where he worked as a signwriter and pilot.
When details of James Ashby's sexual harassment allegations first became known in 2012, ABC Television's current affairs program 7.30 aired allegations that Ashby had been involved in a relationship with a fifteen-year-old boy in Townsville, Queensland. 7.30 reported that the young man, prompted by media coverage of Ashby's allegations, sent an email to Peter Slipper detailing the relationship he had with Ashby. 7.30 also aired contents of a Facebook message that Ashby allegedly sent back to the young man previously, just prior to commencing his role as media advisor. 7.30 reported that Peter Slipper had encouraged the young man to go to the police, but a few weeks later, Slipper himself wrote to Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson about the allegations, and forwarded on the email and the Facebook message. In a statement, the Queensland Police Service said they were in the process of determining whether any person was wanting to make an official complaint and whether there was enough evidence for prosecution.
When his claims drew criticism from politicians, Ashby lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission. His lawyers complained in May 2012 that Senator Bob Carr had tweeted that their client "seems more rehearsed than a kabuki actor", and that Senator Barnaby Joyce told media he was "only slightly less dodgy than Slipper".
In 2015, James Ashby became involved in Pauline Hanson's One Nation political party as media advisor. As Ashby holds a pilot's licence, he also spends time flying Hanson to and from political events and commitments around the country.
In November 2016, the chief of staff for Senator Rod Culleton said Ashby threw a phone at her after an argument. Hanson said it was an underarm throw and that the incident had been blown out of proportion. (In a similar incident years before, Ashby was alleged to have thrown a newspaper reporter's phone.) Also in November, Ashby told journalists not to ask off-topic questions at a press conference held by Senator Malcolm Roberts. Former One Nation treasurer, Ian Nelson, has accused Ashby of directing One Nation candidates to use Ashby's printing business for getting campaign materials printed, saying that candidates feared becoming disendorsed if they did not use Ashby's press and that Ashby's rates were "more than the going rate". Following Shan Ju Lin's dis-endorsement from PHON, Lin accused Ashby of deciding on Hanson's behalf that Lin should be dis-endorsed. Hanson has requested that Ashby sit in for her at National Broadband Network committee meetings in April and on other occasions if need be.
In May 2017, a leaked audio recorded Ashby suggesting that One Nation over-inflate prices on campaign material sold to their candidates for financial profit in upcoming state elections. In response, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sought advice from the Justice Minister Michael Keenan and the Australian Federal Police while the Labor Party called for a police probe into the matter. Ashby and Senator Pauline Hanson denied that the idea had ever been implemented.
In November 2017, James Ashby called then One Nation Member Stephen Lane who is an Independent candidate for the seat of Thuringowa and threatened to cancel his membership if Stephen did not take down a video on his Facebook page explaining to the public that he was a One Nation member but had decided to run for the seat of Thuringowa as an Independent because of the lack of transparency in the party. Lane has since received a letter cancelling his membership.
- Daniel Hurst Political correspondent. "Mal Brough, Peter Slipper's diary and #Ashbygate: the key issues explained | Australia news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-01-19.
- "Nocookies". The Australian. Retrieved 2017-01-19. (Subscription required (help)).
- Karp, Paul (4 April 2017). "One Nation restructure makes James Ashby party secretary". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
- "James Ashby talks to radioinfo about his day in court". Radioinfo.com.au. 2002-11-21. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- Silmalis, Linda; Clune, Richard (22 April 2012). "James Ashby's abuse conviction for making threatening phonecalls". The Daily Telegraph. News Corp. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- "James Ashby starts w". Radioinfo.com.au. 2004-01-13. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "Strawberry poisoning bid foiled". Couriermail.com.au. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "Strawberry farm foils poisoning attempt". Abc.net.au. 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "Peter Slipper text messages with James Ashby". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- Ashby v Commonwealth of Australia (No 4)  FCA 1411 (12 December 2012), Federal Court (Australia).
- Ashby v Slipper  FCAFC 15 (27 February 2014), Federal Court (Full Court) (Australia).
- "James Ashby wins appeal against Federal Court decision to throw out case against Peter Slipper - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Abc.net.au. 2014-02-27. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "James Ashby drops sexual harassment suit against Peter Slipper". Smh.com.au. 2014-06-18. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- Hutchens, Gareth (7 September 2014). "Christopher Pyne allegedly offered to help find James Ashby a lawyer and a job". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- Thomsen, Simon (7 September 2014). "What We Learnt From 60 Minutes' Interview With 'Slippergate' Whistleblower James Ashby". Business Insider Australia. Axel Springer SE. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- "Police Raid James Ashby Home Over Peter Slipper Diary Probe". The Australian. Retrieved 2016-09-18. (Subscription required (help)).
- "James Ashby's Diary Admission, "Wyatt Roy Told Me to Do It"". The Australian. Retrieved 2016-09-18. (Subscription required (help)).
- Caruso, John; Coghill, Jon (28 July 2015). "James Ashby joins Pauline Hanson's entourage, as her pilot". 90.3 ABC Coast FM. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- "7.30". ABC. 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "Ashby facing teen sex claims: ABC". Sunshine Coast Daily. 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- Murphy, Katharine; Ireland, Judith (17 May 2012). "Slipper accuser now pursuing Carr, Joyce". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
- Hawley, Samantha (17 May 2012). "Peter Slipper staffer now lodges fresh complaint with HRC". Radio National, PM programme. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- Karp, Paul (14 November 2016). "Hanson brushes off complaints her staffer threw phone at Rod Culleton aide". The Guardian Australia. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- Cassidy, Barrie (host) (11 November 2016). "Sunday November 11 Full Program". Insiders. 51:16 minutes in. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC1. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
- Nancarrow, Dan (9 March 2012). "Slipper pleads ignorance of phone incident". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- Jeffrey, James (8 November 2016). "The Sketch: all at sea with climate, conspiracy and Rod Culleton". The Australian. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 1 December 2016. (Subscription required (help)).
...the room was forcefully acquainted with the voice of One Nation adviser James Ashby. “We’re not on the subject of Rod Culleton this morning,” he barked. “We have a different agenda this morning, so stick to it, eh?”
- Cassidy, Barrie (host) (13 November 2016). "Sunday November 13 Full Program". Insiders. 51:25 minutes in. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- "Knives out for Pauline Hanson staffer James Ashby, accused of profiting off candidates". Financial Review. 21 December 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- Casey Briggs (9 January 2017). "Dumped One Nation candidate won't apologise for anti-gay comments". ABC News. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- Workman, Alice. "Parliament Rejects Bizarre Request To Have Pauline Hanson's Chief Of Staff Sit In For Her". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- Dziedzic, Stephen (22 May 2017). "Pauline Hanson says One Nation rejected James Ashby's plan to cash in on election materials". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "One Nation 'Copy cat' in Thuringowa". Retrieved 2017-11-10.