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Pauline Hanson ordered to pay Brian Burston, ex-One Nation senator, $250,000 after court loss

Senator Pauline Hanson will still have to pay $250,000 to former senator Brian Burston after she lost a court bid to have the payment scrapped following a Federal Court defamation decision.

The court found Senator Hanson defamed Mr Burston on Channel 9’s Today show in 2019 by falsely accusing him of sexually abusing a female staffer.

Justice Robert Bromwich made a ruling in October that Mr Burston’s reputation had been ‘seriously damaged’ by the accusation.

Mr Burston was unsuccessful in proving other accusations by Senator Hanson were defamatory, including that he sexually harassed staff in his office and in doing so brought the Senate into disrepute.

Senator Pauline Hanson (centre) will still have to pay $250,000 to former senator Brian Burston after she lost a court bid to have the payment scrapped

Senator Pauline Hanson (centre) will still have to pay $250,000 to former senator Brian Burston after she lost a court bid to have the payment scrapped

Following the decision, Senator Hanson submitted that there should be ‘no order to costs, due to what is said to be equal success by the parties to the proceeding and an assertion that Mr Burston engaged in disentitling misconduct in bringing aspect of the case and in giving evidence’.

Mr Burston said the ordinary rule about costs applied as there was a ‘substantial’ verdict in his favour.

‘Ms Hanson characterises the main factual issue in the case as being that Mr Burston had sexually harassed two of his staff, Ms Vairy and Ms Leach, which she had proved to be substantially true,’ Justice Bromwich wrote in his decision on Wednesday.

‘She relies upon the finding … that in Mr Burston’s desperation to have his perception and recollection of events accepted, he went beyond giving evidence of merely a different recollection of events and gave an account at key points that he must have known was “not correct”.

‘That phrase was carefully and deliberately chosen and largely related to his allegation that Ms Leach had sexually propositioned him, which I rejected.’¬†

Justice Robert Bromwich made a ruling in October that Mr Burston's reputation had been 'seriously damaged' by the accusation (Brian Burston pictured)

Justice Robert Bromwich made a ruling in October that Mr Burston’s reputation had been ‘seriously damaged’ by the accusation (Brian Burston pictured)

Justice Bromwich said he was urged by Senator Hanson to make a finding that Mr Burston had deliberately lied on oath and demanded there be no order as to costs.

But he said he was not satisfied and still ordered the costs.

Despite his decision, Justice Bromwich conceded he found Mr Burston to be an unsatisfactory witness and could not accept his evidence on the topic of sexual harassment.

‘I am not satisfied that Ms Hanson has advanced any sufficient basis for departing from the usual rule that costs follow the event. To the contrary, I am satisfied that it is appropriate and in the interests of justice that the usual rule apply,’ he wrote.

Justice Bromwich found Senator Hanson incorrectly said Mr Burston sexually abused a female colleague and falsely claimed he assaulted One Nation chief of staff James Ashby in the Great Hall of parliament

Justice Bromwich found Senator Hanson incorrectly said Mr Burston sexually abused a female colleague and falsely claimed he assaulted One Nation chief of staff James Ashby in the Great Hall of parliament

Senator Hanson has been ordered to pay the filing fee to the Supreme Court, the costs and disbursements incurred from March 17, 2022 including the costs of and incidental to the final judgment.

Justice Bromwich found Senator Hanson incorrectly said Mr Burston sexually abused a female colleague and falsely claimed he assaulted One Nation chief of staff James Ashby in the Great Hall of parliament.

‘I find that both (imputations) were seriously damaging to Mr Burston’s reputation, being broadcast on a nationally broadcast television program watched by over 290,000 people at the time. They were both false,’ Justice Bromwich wrote at the time.

In his decision, Justice Bromwich noted he accepted evidence given by other female staffers who had worked for Mr Burston that his behaviour towards them had at times been ‘objectively wrong and inappropriate’.

The court found Senator Hanson defamed Mr Burston on Channel 9's Today show in 2019 by falsely accusing him of sexually abusing a female staffer (Federal Court pictured)

The court found Senator Hanson defamed Mr Burston on Channel 9’s Today show in 2019 by falsely accusing him of sexually abusing a female staffer (Federal Court pictured)

‘Mr Burston had apparently not kept up with changes in society in relation to the rights of women, with the tide having turned even more decisively in recent years, most particularly in relation to the conduct of and around elected representatives and their staff,’ Justice Bromwich wrote.

Justice Bromwich said he accepted evidence by former staffer Wendy Leach that at one point Mr Burston said to her words to the effect of, ‘Oh Wendy, you probably just need a good f**k’.

Ms Vairy gave evidence to the court that Mr Burston would comment on her looks, telling her she looked ‘sexy’. She also recalled ‘several events’ where he allegedly kissed her on the lips.

She said Mr Burston ‘cupped’ her face and kissed her ‘hard’ after one particular work meeting.

Justice Bromwich said he strongly preferred the version of events given by the two women to that of Mr Burston, who he said ‘crossed an important line’ towards ‘giving an account that he must have known was not correct’.

Senator Hanson was represented in the case by prominent defamation lawyer Sue Chrysanthou SC.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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