The AFP approached a Federal Court this morning to seek access to the mobile phone records of James Ashby, former Speaker Peter Slipper’s staff, for the investigation of Federal National Party MP Mal Brough. The court will reach a decision on whether to allow the access within a three-week period.
The mobile phone records will be used to investigate allegations that Ashby supplied confidential information from his employer’s diary to others.
According to Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin, one of the most gruelling political controversies of the recent times is almost close to conclusion. “What I will say is that the majority of the investigation has been completed. However, there are still a couple of significant avenues of inquiry that we are following,” Commissioner Colvin told a Senate Estimates committee last week, as quoted by News.com.au.
The AFP was granted permission for a Federal Court application for the records on April 27. “It involves records held by the Federal Court from a different process, a different hearing that the Federal Court was involved in,” Colvin said.
This came as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was named in the Panama Papers as the director before of an offshore gold prospecting company. So far there are no reports of impropriety on the part of the prime minister. If charges are laid as a result of the investigations into the Ashby affair, Turnbull may have to bear the burden of some of the most prominent Liberal MPs during the election campaigns and explain their actions.
If charges are laid as a result of the investigations into theJames Ashby affair, Turnbull may have to bear the burden of some of the most prominent Liberal MPs during the election campaigns and explain their actions. Ashby worked for Slipper in 2011, the time when former Prime Minister Julia Gillard offered to promote him from deputy speaker to speaker. He held the post for 12 months before resigning over controversies around his relationship with Ashby.
The ABC reported that Barrister for the Commonwealth Andrew Berger told the court that Ashby’s phone may have information that “leads to the inference that information has been passed that should not have been passed … and may indicate where an offence has potentially been committed.”