News People Prosecutors receive brief of evidence in Brittany Higgins case

Prosecutors receive brief of evidence in Brittany Higgins case

brittany higgins
February – Former political staffer Brittany Higgins alleges she was raped in Parliament House. In March, she addressed a major rally outside the building. Photo: Supplied
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Prosecutors have received a brief of evidence in the Brittany Higgins alleged rape case.

Earlier in 2021, former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins went public with allegations that she was raped in a parliamentary office in 2019.

Ms Higgins told Channel Ten’s The Project that she had originally decided not to pursue a complaint with police as she felt pressure it would affect her job.

Since speaking publicly about the allegations, she has referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police.

On Monday, the ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold confirmed he received a partial brief of evidence and a request to provide advice on any prosecution.

It is not known when a final decision will be made.

Multiple internal inquiries still underway

Ms Higgins’s allegations set off furious debate about the workplace culture inside Parliament House.

Several inquiries were set up to look into whether there were appropriate mechanisms for staffers to report misconduct.

As well as an internal review of the supports and complaints process available to political staffers, which has been handed back to the Prime Minister, an independent inquiry headed by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has been launched.

That review is looking specifically at the culture inside Parliament House and is due to report back to the government by November.

Other inquiries included an investigation by the head of the Prime Minister’s department Philip Gaetjens.

Part of his brief was to find out who within the Prime Minister’s office knew what and when.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he learned of the allegations only when they became public.

But Ms Higgins said someone from the Prime Minister’s office had reached out to “check on her”, in November 2020.

Mr Gaetjens has not yet delivered the report.

Another investigation by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff John Kunkel, looked into whether anyone in Mr Morrison’s office had been “backgrounding” against Ms Higgins partner.

Backgrounding is the practice of briefing journalists with information that the source does not want attributed to them.

The investigation found no evidence that had happened.

Opposition members have criticised the inquiries for not being independent.

In a recent senate estimates hearing, AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw revealed there had been 40 reports involving parliamentarians and their staff since Ms Higgins made her complaint.