Guard ‘found Brittany Higgins naked’ after alleged rape

A Parliament House security guard who says she found Brittany Higgins naked on a couch in Defence Minister Linda Reynolds' office was horrified when she later learned the former staffer alleged she had been raped.

Nikola Anderson, who has worked as a Parliament House security guard for 12 years, has told ABC's Four Corners program, her initial reaction to finding Ms Higgins on the couch in 2019 was to leave her alone to keep her "dignity intact".

Ms Higgins alleges she was raped by a colleague in Ms Reynolds' office after a night out on March 23 three years ago.

The matter is currently under police investigation, but the man has not been charged with any crime.

Ms Anderson said she was working the night Ms Higgins and the male staffer entered Parliament House after a night out with other colleagues.

Ms Anderson said she first noticed Ms Higgins was intoxicated after she struggled to put her shoes on after taking them off to get through the metal detectors at the screening point for the ministerial entrance.

"That's how I realised how intoxicated this girl was because she just could not get her shoes on for the life of her," she said.

After security guards had noted the male staffer later left the building without Ms Higgins, Ms Anderson said her team leader asked her to do a welfare check on the female staffer.

At 4:20am, she went to Ms Reynolds' office.

"As I approached Minister Reynold's office, I opened the door and announced myself. So, yelling, 'Security. Hello. Security, security' … just so that she was aware that I was there," she said.

"I got no response whatsoever."

Ms Anderson pushed open the office door.

Liberal senator Linda Reynolds is questioned about Brittany Higgins during Senate Question Time on February 23. Picture: NCA NewsWire
Liberal senator Linda Reynolds is questioned about Brittany Higgins during Senate Question Time on February 23. Picture: NCA NewsWire

"As I've opened the door, I've noticed that the female was lying on her back, completely naked, on the lounge that was adjacent to the door, for which I've gone, 'Oh'," she said.

Ms Anderson said as she stood at the door Ms Higgins stirred, opened her eyes and then rolled onto her side.

"So, therefore, my (take) on it was she's conscious. She's breathing. She's doesn't look like she's in distress. She's just sleeping off her night. And with that, I shut the door, and I exited the room," Ms Anderson said.

"I made sure her dignity was intact by shutting this door... I was trying to do the right thing by keeping her dignity intact."

Ms Anderson said ACT Policing contacted her about a week ago and she intends to provide a statement.

However she decided to speak publicly because she feared she could be "scapegoated" and lose her job.

It comes after a review of who in the office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison knew about the alleged rape of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins was "put on hold".

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Phil Gaetjens has told a Senate Estimates hearing the review into who in Mr Morrison's office was aware of Ms Higgins' allegations and when has been paused.

Department Secretary Phil Gaetjens during the hearing. Picture: NCA NewsWire /Picture Gary Ramage
Department Secretary Phil Gaetjens during the hearing. Picture: NCA NewsWire /Picture Gary Ramage

Mr Gaetjens said he put the review on hold following advice from Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw that it may "intersect" with the ongoing criminal investigation.

However earlier in Senate Estimates, Mr Kershaw confirmed he had not directly asked Mr Gaetjens to suspend, alter or slow down the internal inquiry.

The internal review of Mr Morrison's office was expected to determine what was done to support Ms Higgins in the wake of the alleged incident, after she claimed the issue was treated as only a "political" problem.

Mr Gaetjens said Mr Kershaw had "strongly advised" him to "hold off" finalising interviews with staff as part of the review.

When asked if the decision to pause the review was permanent, Mr Gaetjens said he would seek to resume it when either the police investigation was concluded or if he was advised by the AFP there was no risk to their own inquiries.

In a separate hearing Mr Kershaw said the departmental inquiry into if and when the prime minister's staff had knowledge of the alleged sexual assault "may" impede the ongoing criminal investigation.

"I also spoke with Mr Gaetjens, secretary of the department of prime minister and cabinet, that I'm particularly concerned about the intersection of his inquiry with our investigation," he said.

Mr Kershaw said he had not asked Mr Gaetjens to alter the terms of reference of his review or slow it down as a result of the warning.

"That's a decision (Mr Gaetjens) may wish to take but based on the conversations I've had in terms of any intersect with our criminal investigation," he said.

Mr Kershaw said he was "limited" in what he "can say" about Ms Higgins' case and the response in order to ensure the investigation being lead by ACT Policing was "not compromised".

"It is being treated with due care and attention including with oversight by our sensitive investigations oversight board," he said.

 

Senate President Scott Ryan has also come under fire for refusing to answer questions about the steps he took when he was made aware of Ms Higgins' allegations on the grounds it might interfere with the police investigation.

"I do not want to inadvertently overstep the mark and complicate an investigation by answering questions in a public forum,'' he said.

"I will take advice and come back."

Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching said Mr Ryan's refusal to reveal how Parliament responded to the alleged rape would not be viewed well by the public.

"You know how it looks? It looks like there's a cover up going on,'' she said.

Originally published as Guard 'found Brittany Higgins naked' after alleged rape


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