Court asks ex-staff for harassment claims


The High Court has written to more than 100 former staff to uncover the extent of sexual harassment involving associates.

It follows police being asked to investigate former High Court judge Dyson Heydon over harassment allegations.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was up to the legal community to decide whether it needed a wider inquiry into sexual harassment in the sector.

Men and women of the court have been asked to talk with Vivienne Thom, who led the original inquiry into Mr Heydon.

It is not yet clear what the court will do with any further allegations uncovered.

“The court reached out to offer an opportunity to talk to Dr Thom or to the court about their experiences whilst associates,” a spokesman told AAP on Thursday.

“Dr Thom will not be conducting any further investigation.”

Mr Morrison hoped his own daughters would never find themselves in a similar situation.

“I want them to go to work in a safe environment where they are valued and respected for their talents and abilities,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“It is up to all of us that we … call it out where it happens.

“There are proper processes that to have to be followed, of course, and so they should be followed.”

An independent investigation commissioned by the High Court found six former judge’s associates were harassed by Mr Heydon when he worked at the court.

He denies the allegations.

“Any allegation of predatory behaviour or breaches of the law is categorically denied by our client,” Mr Heydon’s lawyers said on Tuesday.

“Our client says that if any conduct of his has caused offence, that result was inadvertent and unintended and he apologises for any offence caused.”

Three of the women are pursuing claims for compensation.

Canberra’s director of public prosecutions Shane Drumgold wrote to ACT Police after learning of the allegations.

Mr Drumgold has asked police to investigate the claims made by the women and another incident at the University of Canberra in 2013.

Mr Heydon sat on the High Court bench from 2003 to 2013 and was appointed chair of the 2014 royal commission into trade unions.



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