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

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

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

Judge Robert Bromwich ruled in October that Burston’s reputation had been “seriously damaged” by the prosecution.

Burston failed to prove that other allegations by Senator Hanson were defamatory, including that he sexually harassed his office staff and, in doing so, brought the Senate into disrepute.

Sen. Pauline Hanson (center) will still have to pay $250,000 to former Sen. Brian Burston after she lost a court bid to have the payment thrown out.

After the decision, Senator Hanson asserted that there should not be ‘an award of costs, because of what is said to have been an equal success of the parties in the proceeding and the contention that Mr. Burston participated in the disallowance of misconduct in presenting an aspect of the case and in giving evidence’.

Burston said the standard rule on costs applied as there was a ‘substantial’ verdict in his favour.

“Ms. Hanson characterizes the main factual issue in the case as Mr. Burston having sexually harassed two members of his staff, Ms. Vairy and Ms. Leach, which was shown to be substantially true,” the letter wrote. Judge Bromwich in his decision on Wednesday.

‘She relies on the finding… that in Mr Burston’s desperation to have his perception and recollection of the facts accepted, he went beyond giving evidence of simply a different recollection of the facts and made key points he must have known it was “.wrong”.

“That phrase was carefully and deliberately chosen and largely related to his allegation that Ms Leach had made sexual advances to him, which I rejected.”

Judge Robert Bromwich ruled in October that Mr Burston's reputation had been

Judge Robert Bromwich ruled in October that Mr Burston’s reputation had been “seriously damaged” by the prosecution (Brian Burston pictured)

Judge Bromwich said Senator Hanson urged him to find that Mr. Burston willfully lied under oath and demanded no costs be ordered.

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

Despite his decision, Judge Bromwich conceded that he found Mr Burston an unsatisfactory witness and could not accept his testimony on the subject of sexual harassment.

‘I am not satisfied that Ms Hanson has presented any sufficient basis to depart from the usual rule that costs follow the event. On the contrary, I am satisfied that it is appropriate and in the interest of justice that the usual rule applies,’ she wrote.

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

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

Senator Hanson was ordered to pay the Supreme Court filing fee, costs and outlays incurred since March 17, 2022, including final judgment costs and accessories.

Justice Bromwich found that Senator Hanson incorrectly said 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 (complaints) were seriously damaging Mr. Burston’s reputation, being broadcast on a nationally broadcast television program watched by over 290,000 people at the time. Both were false,” Judge Bromwich wrote at the time.

In his decision, Judge Bromwich noted that he accepted evidence provided by other female employees who had worked for Mr Burston that his behavior towards them had been “factually incorrect and inappropriate”.

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

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

“Mr. Burston had apparently not kept up with changes in society in relation to women’s rights, and the tide had turned even more decisively in recent years, especially in relation to the conduct of elected representatives. and his staff,” the judge said. Bromwich wrote.

Judge Bromwich said he accepted evidence from former employee Wendy Leach that at one point Mr Burston said to her words: ‘Oh Wendy, you probably just need a good f**k’.

Ms Vairy presented evidence in court that Mr Burston would comment on her appearance, telling him she looked “sexy”. She also recalled “several events” in which he allegedly kissed her on the lips.

She said Mr Burston “grabbed” her face and kissed her “hard” after a particular work meeting.

Judge Bromwich said he emphatically preferred the version of events given by the two women to that of Burston, who said he “crossed an important line” by “giving an account that he should have known was wrong.”

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