© Provided by The GuardianPhotograph: Glenn Hunt/AAP
One Nation rehired convicted rapist Sean Black to work in its Queensland head office, just months after he served a jail sentence for the rape and assault of a woman.
Guardian Australia has confirmed that Black, who in 2018 was jailed for rape and subsequently lost his appeal against the conviction, was rehired by the party in December last year after his release from prison.
Black was employed in One Nation's head office in Queensland where the Guardian understands he was advising state and federal party candidates. The Guardian understands the decision to hire Black was signed off by senior party officials and One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, was aware of Black's return. © Photograph: Glenn Hunt/AAPFormer One Nation adviser Sean Black was rehired by the party after serving a jail sentence for the rape and assault of a woman in 2007.
But less than two months later, the Guardian understands Black was sacked from the Queensland head office after complaints from senior members in other states. One party official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were "disgusted" when they learned Black had been rehired.
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According to a number of sources within the party, senior members in Victoria and New South Wales, including NSW upper house MP Mark Latham, raised significant concerns with Hanson about the decision to rehire Black shortly after he served a prison sentence for rape.
Latham did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Victoria's One Nation president Esther Baker. Another senior party member in NSW, state MP Rod Roberts, told the Guardian when contacted about Black's position that it was "a headquarters' decision and one made by them".
Roberts declined to answer questions about Black's employment or what role NSW had played in having him removed. However, when asked whether he would think it appropriate to employ someone with a rape conviction in the party's NSW branch he said: "No, I wouldn't envisage that ever being the case."
A one-time Labor Party staffer and local councillor in Queensland, Black worked as a media adviser to One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts when he was charged with a series of offences relating to the rape and violent assault of a woman in 2007.
The charges were filed in May 2017, but Black did not lose his position until Roberts was forced out of the Senate in October of that year due to his dual citizenship. At the time, a party spokesperson told Fairfax Media that the charges against Black had been "noted" but that he was "entitled to the presumption of innocence".
"Many people have been charged and have been found innocent," he reportedly said.
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In July 2018 Black was found guilty of two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and one count of rape in Brisbane's district court. He was sentenced to five years in jail, with the sentence to be suspended after 27 months.
When the Guardian contacted One Nation spokesman James Ashby about Black's employment in January this year, he said he was "not working for us" before hanging up the phone. In a follow up text message, Ashby, who sits on the party's national executive, said Black "no longer works for us".
Ashby did not respond to follow up questions, including the extent of Hanson's role in bringing him back into the One Nation fold or why it was deemed appropriate to rehire him.
It's understood Black was hired in early December 2020, before having his employment terminated again in late January 2021. While it is unclear exactly when he was released from prison, the terms of his sentence indicate that it was likely to have been in October of last year.
Guardian Australia previously reported that even after Malcolm Roberts was forced out of the Senate, Black had remained a senior member of One Nation's national executive and was put in charge of increasing party membership in the lead-up to his trial.
During his trial and sentencing, the court heard Black had raped the woman after she told him to stop physically abusing her in October 2007. He also pushed her down the stairs and kicked her. In another incident, he slammed a door on her fingers. At the time the court heard that Black had called the woman a filthy dog before raping her, and had threatened to kill her.
The judge, Glen Cash, described Black as having no remorse for the crime and said during his sentencing that: "no man has an excuse to treat a woman in this way".
Black appealed the sentence in 2019, but it was dismissed by a unanimous three-judge ruling in Queensland's appeals court.
The Guardian was unable to reach Black for comment.
. If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au