Ex-Senator Brian Burston Revealed Clive Palmer Has Paid His Legal Bills for 12 Months
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Ex-Senator Brian Burston Revealed Clive Palmer Has Paid His Legal Bills for 12 Months

A former senator has revealed that United Australia Party chairman Clive Palmer put his legal bills on the table during his defamation lawsuit against Pauline Hanson.

Brian Burston, 74, appeared before the Federal Court in Sydney on Tuesday as his defamation lawsuit against the One Nation leader continues after she expelled him from the party in 2018.

Ex-Senator Brian Burston Revealed Clive Palmer Has Paid His Legal Bills for 12 Months

He alleges that Ms. Hanson made false allegations of sexual harassment against him on social media, on television, and in a text message to his wife, Rosalyn.

Burston, who left One Nation after the public spat to join the United Australia Party, stood on the bench for the second day, telling the court that Palmer had paid for the first 12 months of his legal proceedings in 2019.

Sue Chrysanthou SC, who represents Ms. Hanson, complained to the former senator about a concern message he sent to his former staffer, Wendy Leach, in April 2019.

Ms. Leach worked for Mr. Burston while he was a Senator before she was fired from her role as an election officer in 2018 and is now suing him in separate lawsuits for discriminating against her based on gender.

Camera icon Former United Australia Party leader Clive Palmer has ties to Pauline Hanson’s defamation lawsuit. NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled Credit: News Corp Australia

On Tuesday, Mr. Burston told the court that he intended to sue Ms. Leach for defamation but did not want to have two lawsuits at the same time because it would be “troublesome”.

“After these proceedings are over, I intend to start them; it was too much money, expense, and time,” he told the court.

The former senator insisted that he pay his legal fees but admitted that Mr. Palmer had paid for the first 12 months after he started proceedings in 2019.

Ms. Chrysanthou suggested Mr. Burston would have no problem starting two lawsuits in 2019, but he previously raised the concern so he could leak it to the press and give Ms. Leach “name and shame”.

Mr. Burston replied: “I have not leaked anything to the press”.

The court heard that Burston had hired his former janitor, who was 30 years his junior, as an election officer when he became a senator.

Burston denied calling the woman a “handsome sheila”, calling her “Miss World,” and saying she had “long beautiful curly hair”.

Camera icon Former One Nation senator Brian Burston sues Pauline Hanson for defamation. NCA NewsWire/Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

He also denied saying she had “sexy legs”, wore a “sex dress”, told her she “looked beautiful,” and denied comments about her breasts.

Ms. Chrysanthou spoke to Mr. Burston at the fire about an incident where he asked another staff member to call the woman four times to question her about her alleged sexual relationship with former Senator Peter Georgiou.

“You instructed an employee to call about the relationship between your staffer and Senator Georgiou and told her to pick it up,” Ms. Chrysanthou suggested.

He denied telling his employee to record the conversation but admitted he was aware.

“We’re used to being recorded in secret… I wouldn’t approve of it, but I don’t object,” he told the court.

Ms. Chrysanthou said Mr. Burston displayed “shocking behavior” by failing to reprimand the employee for recording the conversation.

“It was behavior that, if it got publicly known, would discredit the Senate…it was disgraceful,” she said.

The former senator disagreed, saying he was “very busy” at the time and not focusing on the issue.

Ms. Chrysanthou suggested that Mr. Burston continued to seek information about his staffer’s relationship, which was “completely” none of his business and “disgusting behavior”.

She also claimed he did it because he was “in love” with the staff and did it out of “jealousy”.

“I agree it had nothing to do with me, but when it comes to taxpayer money, it becomes my business,” he told the court.

After confirming the relationship, Mr. Burston admitted in court that he had leaked it to the media.

“You instructed one of your employees to obtain information about another employee and then informed a press member so that a story could be written,” Ms. Chrysanthou said.

Mr. Burston replied, “pretty much, yes”.

When Ms. Chrysanthou suggested the behavior was “disgusting“, Mr. Burston said it was Mr. Georgiou who was “out of line”.

Burston told the court that after the article was printed, he hung it in his office window.

“In hindsight, it was probably inappropriate, but I wanted to make a statement — maybe the staff shouldn’t interact with senators, to begin with,” he said.

Chrysanthou said his actions were “utterly inexcusable” and that he “discredited the Senate” with his “shocking behavior”.

The trial continues before Judge Robert Bromwich.