Letters and emails detail historical rape claim
Canberra's rape scandal has deepened with news that the woman who accused a Morrison Government Minister of sexually assaulting her, had left behind a raft of emails, letters and other correspondence before she took her own life in Adelaide last year.
In February 2020, just months before she died, the woman met with detectives from the NSW Police Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad and revealed details of the rape by the man, which she claimed occurred when she was a teenager in the 1980s.
NSW Police established Strike Force Wyndarra to investigate the claims, which allegedly occurred interstate.
However, they suspended the investigations after the woman took her own life in June 2020.
Friends and former partners of the woman, including several lawyers and business leaders are pushing for a coronial inquiry into the claims and sent an anonymous letter detailing the claims to Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week.
News.com.au has obtained a copy of the letter and released details in an exclusive report.
REYNOLDS TO TAKE TIME OUT AMID SCANDAL
Linda Reynolds has been released from hospital two days after being admitted due to a pre-existing medical condition.
Defence Minister Reynolds was admitted on the advice of her cardiologist ahead of a highly anticipated appearance at the National Press Club on Wednesday in the wake of the Parliament House rape allegation scandal.
"As a precautionary measure, Minister Reynolds has this morning been admitted to a Canberra Hospital," a statement said earlier this week.
Ms Reynolds had come under intense scrutiny for what she knew and her treatment of her former staffer Brittany Higgins who was allegedly raped in the minister's office.
The senator is expected to take time away before returning to ministerial duties in mid-March.
The Defence Minister was set to face a grilling from journalists over her handling of the rape claim before the event was cancelled due to Ms Reynolds needing to take the period of medical leave.
Following the news of Ms Reynolds' hospital admission Ms Higgins said she hoped the Minister was OK.
"I genuinely hope (she) is okay and wish her all the best with her recovery," she tweeted.
"Let's just hope that from this whole horrible situation there will actually be some fundamental reform to the MOP(S) Act for vulnerable staff and improvements to the workplace culture in Parliament House."
RAPE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST CABINET MINISTER
Parliament has been rocked by a sexual assault allegation against a Cabinet Minister.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reportedly been sent a letter about the alleged rape, believed to have occurred in 1988 prior to the accused entering politics, the ABC reports.
The letter, which was reportedly shared with the ABC by a friend of the complainant, reportedly urges Mr Morrison to investigate the incident.
The correspondence was forwarded to the Australian Federal Police by Labor Senator Penny Wong and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who were also recipients.
Senator Wong told the ABC she had notified SA and NSW Police of the matter, as well as the AFP.
She said she had also written to Senator Hanson-Young and the Prime Minister to notify them of the steps she had taken.
The woman reported the alleged rape to NSW Police in 2020, who intended to investigate the matter.
The ABC reports she had told many friends about the allegation and had engaged a lawyer, but took her life last year.
The national broadcaster reports NSW Police said in a statement: "On Wednesday 24 June 2020, the body of a 49-year-old woman was located at a home at Adelaide by South Australia Police (SA Pol)."
It comes amid claims by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins that she was raped by a colleague in 2019.
Earlier, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton doubled down on remarks that Ms Higgins rape allegations were "she said, he said".
Mr Dutton on Thursday revealed that he was not provided "with the 'she said, he said' details of the allegation" when he was briefed on the incident by the Australian Federal Police earlier this month.
The nature of the comments was criticised, but Mr Dutton told Today that he was trying to make the point that the rule of law had to apply.
"The point I was making was in relation to these cases, the police will hear different accounts," he said.
"They will hear evidence from different people, they will distil all of that and they will decide whether or not a prosecution needs to take place.
"That is not to detract from a victim, not to detract from the seriousness of this matter."
Mr Dutton said the sexual assault of women and sexual harassment in the workplace were "abhorrent acts".
"I don't see any more important task (than) to protect women and children, and I do it every day," Mr Dutton said.
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the claims made in the past fortnight about the culture at Parliament House were "an indictment on all of us".
"The privilege that goes with working in Parliament House is not a licence to bad behaviour but is in fact the opposite," Mr Marles said.
"It is a call to parliament being what should be the model workplace in the country, and that's what we've got to strive towards."
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday warning MPs of the risks of failing to report crimes.
"I cannot state strongly enough the importance of timely referrals of allegations of criminal conduct," he wrote.
"Failure to report alleged criminal behaviour in this manner, or choosing to communicate or disseminate allegations via other means, such as through the media or third parties, risks prejudicing and subsequent police investigation."
Mr Marles said the commissioner feeling the need to write the letter was "pretty extraordinary".
He said although reporting the crime was a critically important first step, people needed to be supported through the process.
"That's what Brittany Higgins is saying, that she felt she didn't have in relation to her circumstances," Mr Marles said.
Federal Labor's national executive is expected to sign off on a refreshed draft code of conduct for politicians, staff, members and volunteers on Friday.
The move - which predates Ms Higgins publicly airing the allegations - aims to improve the process to ensure people who work with Labor are able to raise issues, including bullying or sexual harassment.
MORRISON WANTS MPS TO TELL HIM OF MISCONDUCT
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has implemented official advice from the Australian Federal Police to set a new bar for his MPs, stating that they immediately inform him of any criminal activity in the workplace after Defence Minister Linda Reynolds did not pass on any information about the alleged rape of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins in her office.
The AFP has asked all MPs and their staff to report possible crimes to authorities "without delay", saying that if they don't, evidence could be lost or the offending could continue.
According to a report in The Australian, questions have been raised about whether Ms Reynolds responded properly to the alleged assault, with some critics calling on her to resign and Mr Morrison asked whether the Senator's decision not to tell him about Ms Higgins' alleged rape for nearly two years was "wise".
The Liberal Party has been engulfed by the controversy since Ms Higgins went public with her story two weeks ago.
Labor has questioned the plausibility of Mr Morrison and his office only finding out about the alleged assault - which occurred in March 2019 - within the last two weeks.
Ms Reynolds was hospitalised earlier this week after stress exacerbated an existing heart condition. She is due to be released today or tomorrow.
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw sent a blunt letter to the Prime Minister saying MPs and staff should quickly report sexual assault or other criminal conduct complaints and allegations while taking into account the rights and privacy of the victim.
AFP and government sources said a sexual assault should not be reported against the wishes of the victim.
"I cannot state strongly enough the importance of timely referrals of allegations of criminal conduct," Mr Kershaw's letter states.
"Failure to report alleged criminal behaviour in this manner, or choosing to communicate or disseminate allegations via other means, such as through the media or third parties, risks prejudicing any subsequent police investigation.
"Any delay in reporting criminal conduct can result in the loss of key evidence, continuation of the offending and/or reoffending by the alleged perpetrator.
"It also has the very real potential to compromise the rights of victims and other parties to the alleged offences.
"By not adhering to this process, there is a real risk that any alternative actions by individuals may lead to obstructing, preventing, perverting or defeating the course of justice or the administration of the law."
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, who hired Ms Higgins after the 2019 federal election, also found out about the alleged assault on February 5 and did not notify Mr Morrison or his office.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was told "more around the process than the detail of the alleged offence" by the AFP on February 11 but said he thought it was inappropriate to inform Mr Morrison's office until media inquiries were made to the government the following day.
Mr Morrison backed Mr Dutton's actions but said Senator Reynolds should have told him sooner.
"In relation to the then minister for defence industry (Senator Reynolds), that minister did not disclose that in an anonymised way. That is something that I wish she had, but she did not."
Originally published as Morrison wants MPs to tell him of misconduct