NSW Police has closed its investigation into allegations of rape against a federal cabinet minister, due to “insufficient admissible evidence”.
Bombshell allegations, contained in an anonymous letter to several senior politicians last week, detailed a graphic account of a brutal rape of a teenage girl in Sydney in 1988.
The alleged victim died, reportedly by suicide, in South Australia in June 2020.
Since the claims became public last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to stand down the minister named in the letter, citing a presumption of innocence.
The matter has also been referred to the Australian Federal Police, but with rape being a state crime, it appears unlikely that any charges will be laid over the alleged incident in Sydney.
The AFP says it has no jurisdiction over the matter.
“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,” police said on Tuesday afternoon.
“As such, NSW Police force has determined the matter is now closed.”
Police said they were aware of “a personal document purportedly made by the woman previously” – the dossier sent to politicians.
But they noted that, despite the detailed statement in the letter, “for various reasons, the woman did not detail her allegations in a formal statement to NSW Police”.
NSW Police also noted it had been “the lead agency” on the investigation since February 2020.
When contacted by The New Daily regarding the NSW development, an AFP spokesperson said the agency had no further statement.
Speaking in Sydney shortly after the NSW Police announcement, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said he had no further information and was not aware of the case now considered closed.
“It has been referred to the AFP. There are a number of possible police forces or agencies involved in that situation. It’s far better for it to be left to the police. I will let the police speak for themselves,” Mr Hunt said.
Earlier, AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said he was in touch with his NSW counterpart about the rape allegation.
Mr Morrison and several other MPs received the anonymous letter and 31-page dossier last week, with graphic claims of the brutal alleged rape.
The alleged victim, who was just 16 at the time, had told friends and family of her claims over several years.
On Monday, Mr Morrison said the minister concerned “absolutely rejects” the claims.
The PM rebuffed suggestions the man should be stood down, saying he would not move on “the mere making of an allegation”.
NSW Police say they suspended their investigation after the woman took her own life in 2020. South Australian Police are preparing a report for the coroner.
It is understood the alleged victim told officers on the day before she died that she did not want to proceed with an investigation.
Commissioner Kershaw told 2GB radio he spoke to NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller on Tuesday morning, and would speak again with him and SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens later in the day.
Commissioner Kershaw said it would be “very problematic” investigating the allegations, given that the woman had died.
“It’s something the NSW Commissioner has talked to me about, about him seeking further legal advice in relation to that matter,” he said.
“That’s something that, as I said, myself and the South Australian Police Commissioner will be discussing.
“Just to clarify … the AFP’s role is to liaise and support and provide whatever advice those jurisdictions need in this matter.”
Lawyers school PM
Senior lawyers, meanwhile, have corrected the Prime Minister on his understanding of Australia’s criminal justice system as they urge him to launch an independent investigation into the rape allegations.
Mr Morrison said he believes his minister’s denials of the rape and says he has referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police.
“I’m not the police force. I have given it to the police to investigate,” he said on Monday.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties is disappointed by his response.
The council’s president Pauline Wright said passing the issue to the federal police was “nothing short of an abrogation” of Mr Morrison’s responsibility for the proper governance of Australia.
“It is the Prime Minister, not the commissioner of the AFP, who is ultimately bound to consider whether the person is fit to serve in cabinet,” she said on Tuesday.
“While the police investigation and criminal process should run its course, the Prime Minister should be considering as a matter of priority, and irrespective of any criminal process, the institution of an independent investigation into the complaint.
“He has at his disposal all of the resources of his office as the first minister of Australia, including the power to appoint an independent investigator.”
The council said Mr Morrison should follow the approach taken by the High Court and launch an independent inquiry.
In 2020, former High Court justice Dyson Heydon was found by the court’s independent inquiry to have sexually harassed six young female associates.
Ms Wright says independent investigations were a routine part of corporate and government department procedure for staff facing allegations of sexual harassment or bullying.
Mr Morrison also claimed that police decide if allegations are right or wrong.
“This is patently wrong,” Ms Wright said.
“Under our criminal justice system, it is the courts, and not the police, that have the function of making all necessary findings of fact if the matter goes to trial.”
- For confidential support and services around sexual assault, contact 1800 RESPECT online or by phone on 1800 737 732. If you or someone you know needs help contact Life Line on 13 11 14