Why NSW Police never interviewed Christian Porter


NSW Police have revealed why they never interviewed former Attorney-General Christian Porter over a 1988 rape allegation and confirmed the alleged victim tried to deliver a statement via Skype during the coronavirus lockdowns.

Outlining new information about how the case was handled, police have confirmed the woman who accused Mr Porter of rape asked to deliver her witness statement via Skype during the COVID-19 pandemic – a request the NSW Police resisted and her friends and family were never interviewed after her death.

The woman ultimately decided to withdraw her complaint after COVID delayed the meeting with detectives and died by suicide at home just 24 hours later.

Mr Porter strenuously denies the allegations that relate to a 1988 debating conference in Sydney. He has launched defamation action against the ABC over the reporting of an anonymous letter sent to the Prime Minister setting out allegations against a member of Cabinet.

He subsequently self-identified himself as the target of the allegations.

RELATED: NSW Police never got letter outlining allegations

It was the woman’s decision to withdraw the complaint that resulted in police not interviewing Mr Porter after her death, according to NSW Police.

“It is current standard practice that once a signed victim statement has been obtained from a victim and further corroborative enquiries are made, the formal allegation can and should be put to the person of interest as per procedural fairness principles for investigators,” NSW Police said.

“On June 23, 2020 the (alleged) victim clearly communicated to investigators that she no longer felt able to proceed with the report. The NSWPF did not have a signed statement from the (alleged) victim, hence no formal allegation to put to the person of interest. In keeping with the (alleged) victim’s wishes no further investigation took place and the person of interest was not interviewed.”

NSW Police established Strike Force Wyndarra in February 2020 after receiving information from Mr Porter’s accuser.

Detectives from Strike Force Wyndarra were due to travel to Adelaide to take the woman’s formal statement in March 2020 but their trip was postponed after the COVID-19 outbreak.

RELATED: Accuser’s family begs media not to identify daughter

On Wednesday June 24, 2020, the woman’s body was located at a home at Adelaide by South Australia Police. She had committed suicide just hours after telling police she did not want to proceed with a formal complaint.

In answers to questions on notice, NSW Police confirmed the complainant did ask to provide a formal statement over the telephone or via video.

“Yes. On April 1, 2020, the (alleged) victim requested that she commence her statement by way of Skype,” the response states.

“Investigators consulted with the (alleged) victim on April 2, 2020 by way of teleconference. Options were presented to the (alleged) victim in relation to obtaining her statement. A joint decision by all parties was made not to conduct the interview remotely. There were a number of reasons which led to this decision. The (alleged) victim was understanding and supportive of this decision.”

NSW Police also confirmed they made six telephone calls to the woman which were not answered.

RELATED: Porter, Reynolds moved in Cabinet reshuffle

The alleged victim also made two telephone calls to investigators which were not answered. On both occasions the woman’s missed calls were returned within seven minutes and five hours and 26 minutes respectively.

NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge said the responses from NSW Police demanded further explanation.

“These answers raise yet more questions about the response of the NSW Police,” he said.

“When you speak to experienced investigators who have dealt with historical allegations they will tell you it’s not perfect but sometimes it’s the only option to take a statement by phone or video link.

“What is very distressing here is that this was an option that was requested by the complainant and open to police but for whatever reason was taken off the table.”

The answers provided also detail the Australian Federal Police decision to brief the NSW Police on the letter outlining the allegations rather than send it to investigators in full.

The letter requested urgent action be taken by the Prime Minister to investigate the 1988 alleged rape.

RELATED: Details of Porter’s ABC defamation suit

It urged the Prime Minister to set up an independent parliamentary investigation into the matter, similar to that commissioned by the High Court into allegations against former Justice, Dyson Heydon.

“When news of [the complainant’s alleged] rape becomes widely known to the public (as it most likely will), legitimate questions will be asked as to who knew what, when they knew and what they did,” the letter states.

“This is occurring today in relation to Brittany Higgins. The loss of respect for our political institutions will be exacerbated.

“There will be considerable damage to community perceptions of justice … and the parliament when this story becomes public if it is simultaneously revealed that senior people (like yourselves) were aware of the accusation but had done nothing.

“Failing to take parliamentary action because the NSW Police cannot take criminal action would seem like wilful blindness.”

The South Australia Coroner is yet to determine whether to conduct a public inquest into the woman’s death.



Source link

NSW Police joins forces with Chanel Contos to urge victims to come forward


NSW Police has joined forces with the woman behind a viral petition that gathered thousands of stories of sexual assault to make it easier for survivors to come forward.

Overnight, the force announced it is launching Operation Vest in response to the movement which has brought out thousands of sickening testimonies from students and former students over the past month.

Roughly 5000 testimonies have been brought forward. Some have since been made as formal complaints to the police and officers are preparing for many more to come forward.

In response, the new operation encourages sexual assault victims to report their experiences using a digital form that does not launch a criminal investigation but keeps complaints on record if alleged perpetrators are reported for sexual offences in the future.

It will be run by the State Crime Command’s Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad which will work closely with commands and districts across the state.

NSW Police said the operation recognises the roadblocks that stop many sexual assault victims from reporting their attacks, which can include embarrassment, concerns about repercussions, confidentiality and being believed.

RELATED: Chilling story exposes sinister teen trend

RELATED: ‘Very weird’: Sick theory behind teen assaults

Commander of the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Detective Superintendent Stacey Maloney commended the bravery of the young women prepared to share their stories.

“We must acknowledge the courage it takes victims of sexual violence to come forward and tell their stories,” Det Supt Maloney said.

“Re-telling your story means reliving your trauma, and NSW Police are committed to a framework that supports a victim’s pursuit for justice but also ensures they have access to services that provide the appropriate support.

“We want you to know that if you share your story with us, we will listen to you and if you decide to pursue legal action, immediately or anytime thereafter, we will stand by your side through that process.”

Victims of sexual assault who do not want to make a formal complaint are encouraged to fill out NSW Police’s online Sexual Assault Reporting Option (SARO) form and include as much detail as they feel comfortable with.

They can choose to remain anonymous, the alleged offender will not be notified and the report will not initiate a criminal investigation unless the victim requests otherwise.

Sydneysider Chanel Contos – who launched the viral petition exposing thousands of stories of sexual assault – said the new police operation was about creating an environment where it is “normal for individuals to speak up about and report sexual assault”.

RELATED: Horror sex claims rock more elite schools

“Victims need to feel heard, and reporting in this way can bring closure to many and reduce the chances of repeat offenders socialising in our society,” she said.

She added that the process will also be used to “emphasise the need for structural reform in our society”.

“Operation Vest reports will be used as a call for urgent educational, cultural and structural reforms in our society,” she said. “It will also be used to emphasise the need for a Sexual Violence Policy to be implemented in the NSW police force, and for funding to go into this software for it to be optimised and rolled out Australia-wide.”

HOW YOU CAN REPORT A SEXUAL ASSAULT

NSW Police said in a statement the “preferred” formal options for reporting sexual assault included calling triple-0, phoning or attending a police station and calling Crime Stoppers.

“This course of action may lead to a criminal investigation if you choose to proceed with the matter,” the release said.

“NSW Police will not pursue a criminal investigation through to the court process without gaining your permission by way of a formal statement.”

However, if the victim chooses not to proceed to the courts, their report informs NSW Police of a potential offender in the community, enabling investigators to be aware of their potential threat while also assisting with future investigations.

“We certainly encourage victims of sexual violence to come forward and report their matters, as their assault may not be isolated,” Det Supt Maloney said.

“Your matter may be connected to other incidents of sexual violence and provide investigators with additional information to prevent perpetrators from reoffending.”

Another option if a person decides not to formally report, is to complete a Sexual Assault Reporting Option (SARO).

A SARO is a questionnaire which enables victims to share their story without formally reporting the matter to police.

The victim can choose to provide their details or report anonymously. This informal report will not initiate a criminal investigation but by completing this questionnaire, the information gathered may be used to help police develop strategies which target offenders, protect the community and reduce repeat offending.

If the SARO report relates to a child or young person under the age of 18 years old, the NSWPF must notify Community Services through the Child Protection Helpline.

“We understand that completing this questionnaire may be difficult for victims as they are being asked to remember, in some detail, what happened,” Det Supt Maloney said.

“For victims, if you are seeing a counsellor, it may be useful to talk with them before filling it in so you can prepare a few helpful strategies, such as completing the questionnaire in a place where you feel safe and have some privacy.”

If you or someone you know is seeking further support, please contact the Victims Access Line on 1800 633 063 or Rape Crisis on 1800 424 017.



Source link

PM says police have ‘dealt’ with Porter allegation as Labor, Greens push for independent probe


Scott Morrison says the “rule of law has completed its process” as he resisted mounting pressure to launch a probe into a shocking historical rape allegation levelled at Christian Porter, who has vehemently denied the claim.

The Prime Minister made the comments on Thursday, addressing for the first time the Attorney-General’s vigorous denial of allegations he raped a woman in 1988.

The alleged victim spoke to police about the allegation in 2019 but took her own life the following year.

NSW Police will not pursue an investigation due to “insufficient admissible evidence”, a revelation that has renewed calls for an independent probe into the allegation.

But Mr Morrison said the allegation was a matter for police who “dealt with the matter”.

RELATED: Porter in tears denying rape claims

“They have made their conclusions, and as people have said in similar occasions in the past, that’s where the matter rests,” he said.

“That’s where the rule of law completes its process.”

But with police unable to pursue an investigation, Mr Morrison is under increasing pressure to launch an independent probe into the allegation.

Mr Porter questioned the use of an independent probe on Wednesday, claiming it would force him to disprove an allegation from over three days ago.

But Labor will now join the Australian Greens’ push for an independent inquiry, which frontbencher Penny Wong said would give people confidence about Mr Porter continuing in his role.

“These questions will continue, and it is a matter for the Prime Minister. He is responsible for the membership of the cabinet, he is responsible for assuring Australians that everyone in that cabinet is a fit and proper person,” Senator Wong told ABC RN.

She has called on Mr Morrison to show leadership by reading the allegations contained in the anonymous letter sent to his office and then taking action.

Mr Morrison resisted the call, saying “every single citizen depends” on the presumption of innocence being upheld.

“That is the principle upon which I seek to support to ensure the good governance of our country,” he said.

“And so, as traumatic as these events are, that principle must continue to guide us. (It) will certainly continue to guide me and my government as we deal with these very sensitive issues.”

Crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie was on Thursday asked if Mr Porter should remain as attorney-general.

“I don’t think he’s going to be able to,” Senator Lambie told Sky News.

“But that will be up to Christian Porter.

“If the public has lost confidence in him then the right thing to do would be to step down.”

The woman’s lawyer, Michael Bradley, said Mr Porter’s public denial was a good step forward.

But he said any additional processes about the ability of Mr Porter to continue in his role as attorney-general was up to the Prime Minister.

“It’s obviously a difficult situation because he holds such a high office of public trust and the allegation against him is so serious,” Mr Bradley told Today.

“With that combination of factors it leaves a question mark, sort of a cloud hanging over him, which I don‘t think has been dispelled. It would be difficult for him to move forward.”

The Attorney-General on Wednesday said he had the support of the Prime Minister, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also backing him.

Mr Frydenberg rejected the need for an independent inquiry, saying the police was the only body authorised to deal with such serious criminal matters.

“They have spoken and said the matter is closed,” he told ABC.

“He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence as any citizen is entitled to, and he has the Prime Minister‘s support and he has my support.”

Former Liberal prime minister John Howard said he agreed with the Morrison government’s handling of the situation.

“I believe very strongly in our justice system,” Mr Howard told 2GB.

“It’s been distilled over hundreds of years, things such as the presumption of innocence and the role of the police in investigating criminal complaints.”



Source link

Cabinet Minister at centre of historical rape allegation to identify himself


The cabinet minister at the centre of historical rape allegations involving a 16 year old girl in 1988 is preparing to identify himself and deny any wrongdoing.

Government sources have confirmed that now New South Wales Police has declared “case closed” on the matter he will relinquish his anonymity to categorically deny the allegations.

He will not stand down from his job and plans to continue in his role now that police have confirmed they will not investigate or lay charges.

Scott Morrison has previously revealed the Liberal minister at the centre of the claim, who has not been identified, “vigorously” denies the allegations and categorically refutes that he ever raped the Adelaide woman when she was a 16-year-old teenager.

But former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday that the minister must now “out himself” in respect for his colleagues and the country.

“He should out himself and he should provide a comprehensive statement,” he said.

“He should describe when he knew the woman, how he knew the woman, what dealings he had with the woman after the event. We need to know what he knew about the complaint and when he knew about it.

“Frankly, it’s not good enough for the Prime Minister to say ‘Oh, it’s a matter for police’ The Prime Minister cannot outsource his responsibility for composing his ministry to the police.

“He should require the minister to speak up. He owes it to his colleagues and the country.”

RELATED: Photo of alleged teen victim with Minister

Legal sources in South Australia have told news.com.au that a coronial inquiry cannot be conducted into the woman’s death in Adelaide until police had completed their own investigations.

While there is no active investigation into her rape claims – it was paused by her just days before her suicide – the Australian Federal Police (AFP), South Australia Police and NSW Police are going through the material provided by her and friends who were with her on the night at the centre of the rape allegation to ensure all the documentation goes to the correct authorities.

Mr Morrison said he first heard about an anonymous letter to him detailing the claims last week and spoke to the accused man and the AFP commissioner that same night.

“Did I raise it? Yes, I did. And he vigorously and completely denied the allegations. So that means there is a proper process now for it to follow.

“It is the police, in a country where you’re governed by the rule of law, that determine the veracity of any allegations of this nature,’’ he said.

Mr Morrison received an anonymous letter last week, including an attachment outlining historical allegations of an alleged rape committed by the man before he entered politics.

The woman claimed she was raped in 1988 in the document, which was referred to the AFP.

She died in June 2020 after taking her own life in Adelaide, having reported the matter to police in 2019.

RELATED: Why police won’t get justice in alleged rape

But NSW Police, which had been the lead agency in the case since 2020, confirmed the matter was closed due to insufficient evidence in a statement on Tuesday.

“For various reasons, the woman did not detail her allegations in a formal statement to NSW Police,” it read.

“Following the woman’s death, NSW Police came into possession of a personal document purportedly made by the woman previously.

“NSW Police have since sought legal advice in relation to these matters.

“Based on information provided to NSW Police, there is insufficient admissible evidence to proceed.

“As such, NSW Police Force has determined the matter is now closed.”



Source link

Friends of Cabinet Minister rape accuser urge Scott Morrison to launch inquiry


Friends of the woman who made a historic rape allegation against a current federal minister have paid tribute to their “warm” and “compelling” friend.

The unnamed woman took her own life in June last year, after grappling with reporting the alleged sexual assault to police.

She had reported the alleged assault to police in February 2020 and NSW Police detectives were due to travel to Adelaide last year to take her statement but they struggled to get into South Australia due to coronavirus border restrictions.

The woman alleges she was raped in Sydney in 1988 when she was 16 years old.

The man accused of the rape is currently a federal minister.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday said the Minister “vigorously” denies the allegations.

In light of the allegations hitting the media, the woman’s friends have painted a picture of her brilliance to ABC’s Four Corners.

Wine writer Nick Ryan told the program his friend was one of the most intelligent people he’d ever met.

“(Many of our friends) have gone on to fairly prominent and successful careers around the place, in politics or media or banking and various things … but (she) was always the best of them,” Mr Ryan said.

“Take me back to 1988 … to place a bet on which horse in this race is really going to go and succeed — my money would have been on (her).”

RELATED: Scott Morrison has spoken to Minister accused of rape

RELATED: Penny Wong says she met woman who accused Minister of rape

Jeremy Samuel, a Liberal candidate who has stood for pre-selection twice, and an entrepreneur, said his friend was “wonderful” but the alleged rape sent her life “off the rails”.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind that we’re dealing with a really wonderful and special person, whose life went off the rails, and that’s extremely sad,” he said.

Mr Samuel, who has connections with the Liberal Part, called on the prime minister to launch an independent investigation into the alleged 1988 incident.

“I strongly urge the Prime Minister to commission an independent investigation into the allegations about the minister made by my late friend,” he said.

Mr Samuel is one of many friends who read the woman’s statement and repeatedly discussed the allegation with her, before she died.

Jo Dyer, another friend who is now a literary festival director, told Four Cornersher friend was “a star”.

Ms Dyer, who grew up with the woman in Adelaide and had known her since they were 15, said she was regarded as someone who would go far.

“She had such charisma and we all imagined that her life would be one of skyrocketing success, of achievement,” Ms Dyer said.

“(In our circle), there were many stars shining in the firmament, but (she) really shone the brightest, or certainly one of the brightest.

“She was a star, really.

“She was a girl with sharp intelligence, rigorous intellect, she was warm, she had a compelling eloquence.”

Ms Dyer said she the alleged rape had been “debilitating” to the woman.

“(It) really seemed completely consuming and completely debilitating to her,” she said.

“She was consumed with a trauma which she told me, deeply and consistently, was as a result of an assault that had (allegedly) occurred, early in 1988, and her life at that point was really devoted to exploring how she could get some kind of … peace from that.”

NSW Police formed Strike Force Wyndarra to investigate the allegation last year but officers struggled as coronavirus broke out across Australia.

Another of the woman’s friends, a not-for-profit executive, has offered to make a statement to NSW Police to assist the investigation.

The friend, Matthew Deeble, has revealed he was with the woman on the night the alleged rape occurred.

“She knew what she was going to be putting herself through by coming forward, with nothing to gain as a result of doing this,” Mr Deeble said.

“She was on a path to give her statement to the NSW Police, who were going to travel to South Australia to be with her and take that statement and move the matter forward.

“COVID restrictions stopped that occurring. And I know she was under enormous stress and distress because of those delays.”

Mr Deeble said the woman’s struggle was “heartbreaking” as he watched his friend withdraw her complaint before taking her own life in June.

“It’s not about politics, it’s about humanity,” Mr Deeble said.

South Australia Police are preparing a report for the state’s coroner.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and Labor Senator Penny Wong, the politicians who received the letter with the allegations, have referred it to the Australian Federal Police.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who also received the letter, has referred the matter to the AFP.



Source link

Third woman accuses ex-Liberal staffer of sexual assault


A third woman has claimed she was sexually assaulted by the same former Liberal staffer accused of the 2019 rape of Brittany Higgins in the ministerial wing of Parliament House.

The fallout from the alleged rape of Ms Higgins in 2019 has dominated political discussion and parliamentary question time for a week since the news first broke on Monday, February 15.

The new complainant, a Liberal Party volunteer who was barely out of school at the time, told The Australian that she was assaulted after a night drinking with the man.

She said he offered to “look after her” at his hotel just around the corner, after buying her rounds of double strength vodkas and three tequila shots.

She alleges that she woke up with her blouse buttons opened and her jeans pushed down and the staffer “lying on top of me”, and later discovered that she was bleeding after fleeing the room.

“I believe his actions on the night of 29 June and the morning of 30 June constitute sexual assault, because he performed or tried to perform sexual acts on me whilst I was severely intoxicated and unable to provide valid and informed consent,’’ she said.

RELATED: Lisa calls out Morrison over Brittany

The Australian newspaper reports that the third complainant has signed a statutory declaration to support her allegations. She had never had sex before the alleged attack.

“I was severely embarrassed about it and felt dirty and ashamed and I didn’t want to tell anyone,’’ she told the newspaper.

“Hearing Brittany Higgins’ story, it was so eerily similar, it made me think this person has a pattern of behaviour.’’

The Weekend Australian reported on Saturday that a second former Liberal staffer also alleged she was assaulted by the same man.

On Wednesday, the same day that Ms Higgins will provide her first formal statement to police, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds is scheduled to appear at the National Press Club where she is expected to face more questions over the handling of the incident that took place in her office in March 2019.

Senator Reynolds has not fronted a press conference or taken questions from journalists since the scandal over the Morrison Government’s handling of the matter first emerged after news.com.au published the explosive interview with Ms Higgins on Monday, February 15.

She has offered an unqualified apology for holding an employment meeting with Ms Higgins in the room she was allegedly raped just days after the incident but maintained she did not know at the time it involved a potential sexual assault.

RELATED: Second woman comes forward with allegations

However, on the Friday before that April 1 meeting, Senator Reynolds’ chief of staff had sought and received written advice from the Department of Finance on how to handle a potential sexual assault claim by Ms Higgins.

News.com.au has confirmed that advice stated the then-Defence Industry Minister and her COS had repeatedly urged Ms Higgins to take her complaint to the police.

“You have made it very clear to her that if she requires assistance in making a complaint, you would be willing to support her,’’ the advice states.

“In addition, I understand you have discussed with her on several occasions that if she does choose to pursue a complaint, either now or at a later date, she would have the full and ongoing support of yourself and the Minister.”

However, at the time of the advice the Defence Minister maintains she did not know Ms Higgins was alleging sexual assault, nor had she advised her to go to the police.

“Ultimately any decision as to whether to lodge a police report or pursue any other form of complaint relating to this matter would be a personal choice of the person involved. I note the 1800Respect website recommends the person should have ‘as much control as possible over what to do next’ and that a person ‘may decide not to report to police, or not to have a medical or examination … This is their choice and must be respected’,’ the advice states.

“For a referral to be made on her behalf or without her consent or against her wishes could be harmful to her.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed a new, independent complaints body for political staffers working at Parliament House as fresh questions emerge over his government’s handling of an alleged rape in the ministerial wing.

The Prime Minister has now confirmed he’s actively considering a major overhaul of how staffing complaints are handled to ensure political staffers get support.

“I think there’s merit in that. I really don’t want to prejudge a lot of this,’’ he said.

“We need to … ensure that people are able, in these circumstances, to feel they can raise these issues, even though people are saying, you can, they need to feel that they can and to do so in a discrete and a private way and so they can get the support they need.”

RELATED: Office ‘steam cleaned’ after alleged rape

But the Prime Minister has warned business leaders and political leaders they are “kidding themselves” if they believe that the toxic, destructive culture exposed over the last week was confined to the Liberal Party or Parliament House.

“I think the culture needs to change and it needs to continually improve, but I’ve got to say, if any workplace, thinks that this is just confined to the parliament, they are kidding themselves, seriously, they’re kidding themselves, we’ve got our issues to deal with as a Parliament, and we’re saying we do,’’ he said.

In the first Newspoll to be conducted since the scandal broke, published in The Australian, the two-party preferred vote is unchanged at 50:50 but popular support for the Prime Minister as preferred PM has risen to 61 per cent. Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s support has fallen by 3 points to 26 per cent.

Ms Higgins will make a formal statement to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Wednesday afternoon, a move that will trigger an active investigation into her alleged rape in the ministerial wing of Parliament House in March, 2019.

AFP detectives will fly to Queensland this week to take her statement, prompting police to reactivate the investigation that was paused in April, 2019 at Ms Higgins’ request, just two days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the federal election on April 11, 2019.

RELATED: ‘Mortified’: Texts reveal trouble for PM

In her correspondence with the AFP at the time, Ms Higgins cited the pressures of her job and the looming election campaign as the main factor in her decision not to pursue a formal complaint at that stage.

“It’s just not the right decision for me personally, especially in light of my workplace demands,” she said.

At the time, Ms Higgins says she was concerned about the impact that pursuing a complaint would have during the election and for her future job prospects.

In June of that year, her counsellor from the Canberra Rape Crisis centre wrote to Ms Higgins again, noting these concerns.

“The election is now over and I am wondering if any issues are arising for you?,’’ she wrote.

“Please know I am here to talk or come in and have a session.”

Ms Higgins had sought assistance at the time from the parliamentary Employee Assistance Program but found that securing an appointment could take weeks.

She never received any counselling from the EAP at the time, nor did anyone from the Morrison Government follow up to ensure she had secured an appointment or was receiving ongoing care instead relying on counselling from the rape crisis centre.

The Prime Minister also confirmed that he was not happy to learn that after news.com.au contacted his office on February 12 with detailed questions on how his office handled the alleged rape in 2019 that he was not informed of Ms Higgins’ complaint by his office for 65 hours, until the story was published on Monday, February 15 at 8am.

“I’ve expressed my view to my staff about that very candidly on Monday,” Mr Morrison said.



Source link