August 7, 2014 – 7:41AM
Frances Abbott: the PM’s daughter allegedly had her student records accessed by a librarian. Photo: Supplied
A former part-time librarian at a Sydney design school has been charged after she allegedly accessed student records of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s daughter.
Twenty-year-old UTS student Freya Newman was charged with unauthorised access of restricted data on Monday, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of two years jail. A NSW police spokeswoman on Wednesday said the former employee of the Whitehouse Institute had been issued with a court attendance notice.
A police investigation was launched two months ago following a complaint by the Whitehouse Institute.
At the same time media reports emerged that the private college had awarded Frances Abbott an unadvertised and very rare $60,636 scholarship to the Whitehouse Institute of Design, chaired by Liberal Party donor and Abbott friend, Les Taylor, in 2011.
The substantial award meant the PM’s middle daughter was required to pay just $7546 towards her three-year bachelor’s degree in design from which she graduated with distinction in February.
Mr Abbott has previously denied having any influence over the college and its awards. He did not publicly disclose the scholarship as it was merit based, rather than a gift, and he has repeatedly underlined his daughter’s academic ability.
However news website New Matilda reported that it had documents that showed Ms Abbott was pursued for the award and was contacted four times by the college before finally meeting founder Leanne Whitehouse on February 18, 2011, when she was offered the Chairman’s Scholarship.
Information obtained by the news site indicated that Ms Abbott is to begin a master’s degree in design at the college this year, a new course that was formally accredited in January, just weeks after the PM was reportedly publicly chided about the costs of accreditation at a function on the college’s Surry Hills campus. New Matilda claims to have information that suggests Ms Abbott’s fees for the master’s degree have been waived.
In a comment piece posted this week, New Matilda’s owner and editor, Chris Graham, said the news site had “relied on documents and information supplied to us by brave sources” in publishing their stories on Ms Abbott’s scholarship.
“It’s concerning that any person who is accused of leaking information in the public interest would be pursued by the government of the day,” he said.
Ms Newman is due to appear in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on September 18.
Source : The Canberra Times