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Hanson loathed former workmate, court told

Former senator Brian Burston is suing Pauline Hanson for defamation. Photo: AAP
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Pauline Hanson detested her former colleague Brian Burston and tried to seriously harm his reputation, a court heard in the final day of a defamation hearing.

Mr Burston is suing the One Nation leader for defamation, saying she accused him of sexual harassment on social media, via a text message to his wife and during a television interview.

The 74-year-old denies all allegations of sexual harassment as entirely fabricated, and argues the claims paint him as a pervert, and someone who acted disgracefully and brought the Senate into disrepute.

Bruce McClintock SC, on behalf of Mr Burston, gave his closing address in the Federal Court where the case wrapped up on Wednesday.

Mr McClintock said the text message Senator Hanson sent to his client’s wife on Valentine’s Day showed she “detested my client and wanted to do him harm”.

“The text message is inherently and intrinsically malicious; it is plainly reckless”.

The text said that Mr Burston was being investigated for sexual harassment of former female staffers, and that he considered his wife a “whingeing old bag”.

Brian Burston says Pauline Hanson tried to seriously harm his reputation. Photo: AAP

Senator Hanson sent the message to Mrs Burston the day after a dinner at Parliament House where Mr Burston had a physical altercation with One Nation chief of staff James Ashby.

Mr McClintock submitted the proximity and timing of her message must be taken into consideration.

The first matter Mr Burston complained of was a Facebook post from February 2019 featuring Senator Hanson’s speech to parliament that Mr Ashby had penned, about sexual harassment allegations and unfair dismissal claims.

Sue Chrysanthou SC, on behalf of Senator Hanson, said it was not obvious the speech was about Mr Burston, who is not named, and argues he “outs himself”.

“You can’t defame yourself,” she said.

Terri-lea Vairy was earlier called to give evidence in Senator Hanson’s defence. She said her former boss regularly degraded, humiliated and disgusted her with unwanted sexual harassment including shoving money down her breasts.

Another one of his employees, Wendy Leach, described Mr Burston’s alleged offer of “a good f–––” as “just filthy,” and said she was unfairly dismissed after telling him to stop his infatuation with Ms Vairy.

Mr Burston said the claims made him feel that he was being made out to be “a pervert”.

“It created a lot of anxiety and trauma, I have trouble sleeping at night,” he said at another point in his evidence, during which he at times choked back tears.

Justice Robert Bromwich said he would reserve his judgment for a later date.

-AAP