Burston ex-staffers consider legal action

 

Exclusive: As Pauline Hanson was speaking in the Upper House on Tuesday night, alleging an unnamed senator was being investigated for "another case of serious sexual harassment", a nearby Brian Burston was heard to say "now the gloves are off."

But 25 hours later it was Senator Burston whose hand was bloodied, cut in a fight with Ms Hanson's chief of staff James Ashby inside Parliament House.

The clash is now being investigated by the Australian Federal Police and Mr Ashby was banned from the building for accosting Mr Burston.

 

Senator Pauline Hanson speaking with Senator Jim Molan during a division in the Senate Chamber at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith
Senator Pauline Hanson speaking with Senator Jim Molan during a division in the Senate Chamber at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith

But what Mr Burston did next is just as extraordinary.

When New Corp Australia on Wednesday night told Mr Burston there was a picture showing what appeared to be blood on Ms Hanson's office door, he denied responsibility.

He would go on to accuse Mr Ashby of putting it there.

However, at 4pm today, Mr Burston's memory had sharpened.

He had put the blood on the door.

Senator Brian Burston nursing a bloodied hand following a fist fight with Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff James Ashby. Picture: Kym Smith
Senator Brian Burston nursing a bloodied hand following a fist fight with Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff James Ashby. Picture: Kym Smith

 

No doubt the scuffle with Mr Ashby had left him shaken, but it is difficult to believe Mr Burston could not remember going to Ms Hanson's office and smearing his own blood on her door.

Had Mr Burston said or done nothing in response to Ms Hanson's Senate speech, Australians would not be talking about the imbroglio today.

But biting his tongue is not his style.

That's why he could soon find himself in the Federal Circuit Court.

James Ashby arriving at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith
James Ashby arriving at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith

Ms Hanson's speech also alleged the unnamed senator had been involved in six or more unfair dismissal cases during this term.

Mr Burston has outed himself as the senator she was referring to, while denying that many ex-employees had brought claims.

But New Corp Australia can now reveal some of his former staff are now considering legal action alleging Mr Burston has breached the terms of settlement deeds.

Senator Brian Burston has admitted putting blood on Pauline Hanson’s office door. Picture: Kym Smith
Senator Brian Burston has admitted putting blood on Pauline Hanson’s office door. Picture: Kym Smith

Leading employment lawyer Sarah Lock, who represents some of the ex-employees, told News Corp Australia that "relief may be sought … in respect of their rights to privacy and confidentiality".

Ms Lock said the trigger was Mr Burston "blatantly stating the reason for the staff being dismissed" while being interviewed on Sky News' Richo program.

Mr Burston told former Labor senator Graham "Richo" Richardson he had sacked a number of staff for breach of trust and confidence.

That itself could be a breach of the deeds of settlement with the dismissed employees, Ms Lock, of NB Lawyers, said.

Senator Pauline Hanson and James Ashby arriving at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith
Senator Pauline Hanson and James Ashby arriving at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith

News Corp Australia sought comment from Mr Burston prior to deadline. He did not respond.

A former staff member told News Corp Australia that parliamentarians' staff faced an inequitable process when alleging unfair dismissal.

"The individual is taking on the Commonwealth," one said.

"At one stage there were five lawyers involved, with bottomless pockets."