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Monday, 24 November 2014

Freya Newman To Appear For Sentencing In Sydney Tuesday Morning | newmatilda.com

Freya Newman To Appear For Sentencing In Sydney Tuesday Morning | newmatilda.com

Freya Newman To Appear For Sentencing In Sydney Tuesday Morning



By Max Chalmers



Frances Abbott, pictured with father Tony Abbott and Whitehouse Institute owner Leanne Whitehouse.
Frances Abbott, pictured with father Tony Abbott and Whitehouse Institute owner Leanne Whitehouse.


The
long-running 'Frances Abbott secret scholarship' saga is expected to
come to a head tomorrow, with the sentencing of whistleblower Freya
Newman.




University
student Freya Newman will face the Downing Centre Local Court tomorrow
for what is expected to be the final time, after pleading guilty to
accessing the student records of the prime minister’s daughter Frances
Abbott earlier in the year.



In September Newman pleaded guilty to breaching Section 308(H) of the
NSW Crimes Act, after using the log in details of a fellow staff member
at the Whitehouse Institute of Design to retrieve Ms Abbott’s records.



The records revealed the prime minister’s daughter had paid just over $7,000 for her $68,000 degree, and received the award after just one meeting with Whitehouse Institute owner Leanne Whitehouse.


The Institute and the Prime Minister’s Office have continued to argue
the secret scholarship was granted on the basis of merit, but have been
contradicted by a former teacher of Ms Abbott, the school’s own website
(which still reports that no scholarships are available), as well as
other students at the Institute.



One fellow student described the scholarship as “beyond a joke” while one of Ms Abbott’s former teachers, Mellitios Kyriakidis
said: “Even from her class I could name 10 people more deserving either
for merit or financial need or both [of a scholarship].”



After helping to make the scholarship publicly known, Newman was pursued legally.


At an October hearing Newman’s lawyer, Tony Payne SC, argued that
Newman had not realised her actions were illegal, and that despite
decades of experience in criminal law, even he had not realised using
the log in details of another staff member to access records was a
criminal offence.



He submitted that Newman had been encouraged to access the records by
other staff members, but that she was also motivated by a sense of
injustice.



He also noted that Newman had pleaded guilty at the earliest possible
date and expressed contrition, including writing a letter of apology to
Ms Abbott.



Prime Minister Tony Abbott with daughter Frances and wife Margaret, at the Whitehouse Institute in December 2013.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott with daughter Frances and wife Margaret, at the Whitehouse Institute in December 2013.

Police are pushing for Newman to have a conviction recorded for the
offence, but have agreed it was on the lower end of offending,
effectively ruling out the possibility of a two-year jail sentence, the
maximum available for a breach of 308(H).



However, police prosecutor Amin Assaad told the Court in October that
although Newman had not gained “financially or personally” from her
actions, recording a conviction was necessary in order to deter other
potential offenders.



Frances Abbott recently spoke publicly for the first time about the
incident, forgiving Newman for accessing her records but comparing the
21-year-old to a “small child”.



“To be honest, it’s just like as a small child you learn it’s not
right to read someone’s diary. It’s not right to hack into anything,” Ms Abbott said.



After completing her studies Ms Abbott was given a job by the Whitehouse Institute, though a staff register revealed she was the only employee without a formal job description.


Her father, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has still refused to update
his parliamentary interests register, despite acknowledging Frances was
his dependent at the time, and despite reporting numerous small benefits
received by his children, including flight upgrades and tickets to free
events.



Whitehouse Institute stands to benefit substantially from proposed
Abbott Government reforms to higher education, with more than $800
million in public funding being released to private colleges for the
first time.



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