Former staffers for Jacqui Lambie copped a spray from a Federal Court judge for 'idle speculation', calling their subpoena application 'a fishing expedition'.
Former staffers for Jacqui Lambie copped a spray from a Federal Court judge for 'idle speculation', calling their subpoena application 'a fishing expedition'.

Judge rebukes ex-Lambie staffers over evidence bid

A FEDERAL Court judge has chided Senator Jacqui Lambie's former chief of staff and office manager for using an unfair dismissal case management hearing to make accusations against people who could not defend themselves.

Justice John Snaden on Friday ruled a journalist and another former staffer of Senator Lambie would not be compelled to give evidence in the upcoming trial involving the termination of Rob and Fern Messenger's employment.

Justice Snaden told the Messengers he was not persuaded the application to subpoena the pair to give evidence was "anything more than a fishing expedition".

"You are using this forum as a way to say things about people who cannot defend themselves. There is no new evidence, just idle speculation," Justice Snaden told the couple during Friday's hearing.

"I have given you some leeway as you are representing yourself but you cannot keep asserting things that are nothing more than speculation and suspicion."

The married couple's employment with Senator Lambie's office finished in May 2017.

They are alleging to be victims of adverse action and reprisal under the Public Interest Disclosure Act and the Fair Work Act.

The unfair dismissal trial will begin in September. If Senator Lambie was found guilty of taking reprisal under the PID Act, she could face two years in prison.

The Messengers asked Justice Snaden to grant leave for Sunday Telegraph political editor Annika Smethurst and former Senator Lambie employee Norbert Koegh to be subpoenaed to give evidence.

 

Rob Messenger and Jacqui Lambie arrive at Parliament House, Canberra, during 2014.
Rob Messenger and Jacqui Lambie arrive at Parliament House, Canberra, during 2014.

The Messengers claimed Mr Keogh would be able to give evidence about what he had seen and heard in Senator Lambie's office and Ms Smethurst would be able to give evidence about who leaked the letter of complaint to her.

The letter was the basis of an article Ms Smethurst wrote in June 2017 in which it was claimed the Burnie-based Senator took staff shopping at adult stores, complained about her sex life and was prone to angry mood swings.

"We are the victims of a serious crime," Mr Messenger alleged in relation to the leaking of the letter to the press. "The document was leaked to injure us."

The Messengers are also involved in action in the Burnie Magistrate's Court.

Magistrate Tamara Jago will rule on July 31 whether she will grant Fern Messenger's application for a restraint order against Senator Lambie.

Originally published as 'No evidence': Judge rebukes ex-Lambie staffers


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