Pauline Hanson ordered to pay $250,000 for ‘seriously damaging’ her ex-colleague’s reputation after falsely accusing him of sexually abusing a co-worker on live TV
- Pauline Hanson ordered to pay $250,000 in damages for false accusation
- Federal Court ruled she had seriously damaged Burston’s reputation
- The charge was that he had abused a female colleague in his parliamentary office
- Mr Burston left Hanson’s One Nation to join the United Australia Party in 2018
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has been ordered to pay $250,000 in damages after defaming former Senator Brian Burston on the Today Show by falsely claiming he sexually assaulted a female staff member in his parliamentary office.
In Federal Court on Wednesday, Judge Robert Bromwich ordered Ms Hanson to pay the fines after he “seriously damaged Burston’s reputation on the Nine Network”.
In addition to falsely claiming that Mr Burston sexually assaulted a female colleague, Ms Hanson also falsely claimed that he assaulted One Nation Chief of Staff James Ashby without any provocation in the Great Hall of Parliament.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson must pay $250,000 in damages for defaming former Senator Brian Burston by falsely claiming he sexually assaulted a female staff member
In addition to Mr Burston (pictured) sexually assaulting a female colleague, Ms Hanson also falsely claimed that he assaulted One Nation Chief of Staff James Ashby without any provocation in the Great Hall of Parliament.
“I believe that both (accusations) seriously damage Mr Burston’s reputation as they were broadcast on a nationally broadcast television program which was watched by more than 290,000 people at the time. They were both false,” the judge said.
Mr Burston has failed to prove that a number of other allegations made by Ms Hanson were defamatory, including that he sexually harassed staff in his office, harassed a female staff member in his office and discredited the Senate by his shocking behavior towards staff.
However, Judge Bromwich criticized Mr Burston’s conduct, calling it “objectively wrong and inappropriate”.
Behavior included telling female staffer Wendy Leach, “Oh Wendy, you probably just need a good f**k.”
“Mr Burston had apparently failed to keep pace with the changes in society regarding women’s rights, with the tide turning even more decisively in recent years, especially with regard to the behavior of and around elected representatives and their staff” , said the judge wrote.
Brian Burston arrived in court in June 2022 after suing Pauline Hanson for defamation
At a seven-day hearing in June, the court heard that the former senator also cupped another staffer Terri-lea Vairy’s face before giving her a “long, hard kiss” and then $100 between her breasts on another occasion. shoved.
“I have no doubt that Mr Vairy was constantly harassed by Mr Burston during her employment, mainly of a sexual nature. I also have no doubt that Mr Burston has made a sexual proposal to Mrs Leach,” Justice Bromwich wrote.
“Mrs. Leach and Ms. Vairy gave a proof that was full of adjectives to describe the very excruciating workplace they had to endure in the service of Mr. Burston.”
The former senator launched the libel suit in June 2020 over what he believes were allegations of sexual harassment against him on social media, via text message and on television.
The 74-year-old has repeatedly denied the allegations of wrongdoing and says the events described never happened.
Ms Hanson will have to pay the hefty fine after losing the defamation case
Ms. Hanson filed her own counter-charge in federal court in November 2020, alleging that Mr. Burston and allegations of sexual harassment against her amounted to sexual discrimination.
On Wednesday, Judge Bromwich allowed this case and rejected Mr Burston’s request to dismiss the lawsuit entirely on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.
Mr Burston resigned from Hanson’s One Nation to join the United Australia Party in June 2018 after falling out with his former colleagues over his stance on then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed tax cuts. He failed to keep his seat in the 2019 federal election.