At the Downing Centre Local Court today, Freya Newman pleaded guilty to accessing restricted data during her time as a library assistant at the Whitehouse Design Institute. Newman, 21, admitted to using the login details of a fellow employee to access private records detailing a $60,000 scholarship that Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s daughter, Frances Abbott was awarded in 2011.
The story made headlines a few months ago over arguments of Abbott’s hypocritical decision to cut funding to University students
in the new budget. However, today, Ms Newman makes headlines for the legal action taken against her for whistle-blowing against what initially appeared to be a questionable scholarship. Whilst the scholarship was awarded only once before Ms Abbott, The Whitehouse Institute of design has not yet disclosed the “merits” system upon which the scholarship was based. Frances Abbott revealed that she later declined the scholarship for undisclosed reasons.
The Guardian reports that given Newman’s access to restricted files was related to a matter of “public interest” a defence should have been available to her at law. Such a defence could be brought by Newman if the incident occurred at a public institution. Given that The Whitehouse Institute is a private educational facility, there is no such defence available to the young university student.
Why is the story: ‘whistleblower Freya Newman pleads guilty’ and not ‘young woman tells truth about possible Abbott corruption’? #auspol
— Dustin (@duongdustin) September 18, 2014
Online support defending Newman has managed to get 5,000 signatures in favour of ceasing charges against Ms Newman.
Despite this, Newman has pleaded guilty and will face sentencing in August. The maximum penalty that Freya Newman could face is 2 years in jail.
More on this story as it comes to hand.
Feature Image: Herald Sun