Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw has sent a sternly-worded letter to Scott Morrison, warning him that when politicians don’t immediately report allegations of crimes – such as when Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins was allegedly raped by another staffer inside then-Defense Industry Minister Linda Reynolds‘ office in 2019 – it not only impacts police investigations but it also increases the risk of the alleged perpetrator reoffending.
“I cannot state strongly enough the importance of timely referrals of allegations of criminal conduct,” Kershaw wrote in the letter.
“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.”
While both Higgins’ former boss, Linda Reynolds, as well as her current boss, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, both say they encouraged Higgins to go to the police, she ultimately only briefly met with the AFP in 2019 and decided not to go through with an investigation.
The controversy in recent weeks about who in the Liberal party knew about the allegations – which includes ministers and at least two staffers from the PM’s office – has raised questions as to whether there has been a coverup or whether the party’s internal reporting mechanisms are woefully inadequate.