It’s got all the makings of a great thriller: the politician locked in a desperate legal battle with a mystery builder, a fake journalist and a former history teacher with a hidden agenda.
But for Pauline Hanson, this story is not likely to end as she had hoped. And it seems certain that it will not end well for the man who has allegedly assumed three identities in his bid to prompt a recount of upper house votes from the NSW election.
Yesterday, Ms Hanson’s lawyers and Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham publicly aired their concern that key witness Michael Rattner, supposed journalist Michael Wilson and Hanson supporter Sean Castle — all of whom are central to the former One Nation leader’s push for a recount of votes from the March election — are the same person.
Ms Hanson is mounting a court challenge over the count, in which she was narrowly defeated for an upper house seat in the March state election, just missing out to Nationals and Greens candidates. Michael Rattner was named by Ms Hanson as the man who leaked an email claiming that up to 1200 votes for her in the NSW upper house election were counted as blanks by “dodgy electoral staff.”
The email was supposedly sent by senior NSW electoral staffer Ian Brightwell to his colleague and media officer Richard Carroll.
Mr Rattner claimed his girlfriend, who worked at the electoral commission, had originally leaked the email to him. Mr Rattner failed to appear in the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday at the hearing into Ms Hanson’s case, and has not contacted Ms Hanson’s lawyers for more than a week. A search by The Australian revealed there was no person in Australia on the electoral roll with the name Michael Rattner.
According to a court affidavit obtained by The Australian, Mr Brightwell did, however, have contact with Sean Castle — a former history teacher who also claimed to be a journalist with The Daily Telegraph online and convinced commission staff to send him and another fake journalist, Michael Wilson, embargoed progressive upper house results. Neither Mr Castle nor Mr Wilson has ever worked for The Daily Telegraph.
After receiving the embargoed results, Mr Castle then sent them to Ms Hanson’s team.