Mark Latham was a “broken man” when he joined One Nation five years ago, and has this week “spat in the face” of the people who gave him a “lifeline”, a senior member of the party has said.

The comments, made by federal leader Pauline Hanson’s chief-of-staff James Ashby, come after Mr Latham sensationally accused One Nation of defrauding NSW electoral funds and quit the right-wing party on Tuesday,

In a speech to parliament on Tuesday Mr Latham, who until last week led the party in NSW, and upper house MP Rod Roberts announced they would remain as independents.

Mr Latham sent a letter to Special Minister of State John Graham where he accused the party’s head office of misappropriating more than $270,000 of taxpayer funds on two occasions – in March 2019 and September 2021.

The money, from the NSW Electoral Commission Fund, is designed to reimburse political parties for their spending on administration and operation, but Mr Latham claims One Nation funnelled the money to the party’s federal office in Brisbane and spent it.

Senator Hanson has refuted the claims, accusing Mr Latham and Mr Roberts of avoiding responsibility for the party’s poor performance in NSW.

Mr Ashby went a step further on Tuesday night, telling Sky News host Andrew Bolt that when he met Mr Latham five years ago “he cried on numerous occasions” when discussing joining the party.

Mr Latham was once the federal Labor leader, and was Opposition Leader from 2003-2005.

“We gave Mark Latham a lifeline to be an elected representative of the NSW parliament and he has spat in Pauline Hanson and my face today with his unfounded and untrue claims on the floor of parliament,” Mr Ashby said.

Mr Ashby welcomed an investigation by the Electoral Commission, and questioned why Mr Latham had not raised the allegations earlier with the party, the commission, or the state’s corruption watchdog.

“To walk away like this and to spit in our faces and just completely lie, I hope that the Electoral Commission in NSW does investigate this,” he said.

Mr Ashby said he was considering defamation action.

Mr Latham’s allegation and exit from the party ends months of public feuding with Senator Hanson, after he targeted independent MP Alex Greenwich in a homophobic tweet.

Senator Hanson called on Mr Latham to make a public apology for his “disgusting comments”, but he reportedly never spoke to her again.

She fired him as the party’s NSW leader last week.

In his speech to parliament on Tuesday, Mr Latham said he was quitting the party because of the “Queensland takeover of the NSW branch”.

“I cannot remain as a One Nation MP due to past attempts at defrauding NSW electoral funds and the appointment of a new state executive orchestrated to repeat these rorts,” he said.

“My concern about the integrity of NSW electoral funding paid across to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation set out in a letter (to Mr Graham).”

In his letter, Mr Latham said he had experienced “highs and lows in public life”.

“But I have always stuck to strong standards of honesty and integrity. I have never been accused of mishandling public money,” he wrote.

He alleged the party’s head office in Brisbane had spent $102,000 in payments from the NSW Electoral Commission after the 2019 election to purchase “conveyor belts, other fixed equipment, and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation merchandise (hats, T-shirts, sun screen, etc)”, which he said were stored in Brisbane.

The matters have been referred to the NSW Electoral Commission.

Read related topics:One NationPauline Hanson

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