Federal Politics

Leaked public servant photo: Labor claims possible criminality in Jamie Briggs affair

Labor says the leaking of a photo of the woman at the centre of the Jamie Briggs affair may have constituted a crime and is threatening to refer it to police unless the Turnbull government investigates.

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Turnbull won't pursue photo leaker

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull dismisses calls to investigate the leak of a photo of the female public servant at the centre of the Jamie Briggs affair. Vision courtesy ABC News.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull demanding the government hold its own investigation, including into whether any law has been broken.

In his letter, Mr Dreyfus states that under the Sex Discrimination Act, it is an offence to "victimise" someone who has made an allegation of sexual discrimination or harassment.

Frontbencher Jamie Briggs resigned over the Hong Kong incident.
Frontbencher Jamie Briggs resigned over the Hong Kong incident. Photo: Andrew Meares

"Unless the government provides a full and satisfactory explanation of the complainant's treatment, it may be necessary to refer this matter to the Australian Federal Police for their investigation," he says.

Mr Turnbull has ruled out an investigation into the leak, saying that leak probes "tend to come up with very little".


Mr Briggs resigned as cities minister after being accused of behaving inappropriately towards a young female diplomat during a late-night drinking session while he was on an official visit to Hong Kong in late November.

A photo showing the woman in high spirits on the night in question was leaked to The Australian newspaper last week in an apparent bid to diminish her claims. The leak came after Mr Briggs had already resigned and despite the fact that cabinet colleagues had widely agreed his behaviour was inappropriate based on the report of an independent investigation.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he does not want to hold an inquiry into the leak.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he does not want to hold an inquiry into the leak. 

Mr Dreyfus also demanded in his letter that that report be made public.

The Australian published the photo with the woman's face pixelated but with a story that carried other identifying details.

Mr Briggs has admitted taking the photo and sharing it with "several" other people but has denied leaking it.

In another move by Labor to step up its attack over the Hong Kong incident, shadow special minister of state Gary Gray has written to the Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd demanding to know what steps have been taken to address the breach of the woman's privacy.

"I seek your assurance that there will be no further harm to the complainant for having raised this matter, and that her privacy will be protected," Mr Gray wrote.

Labor is also demanding the Public Service Commissioner investigate whether the Turnbull government delayed Mr Briggs' resignation to provide a cover for Mal Brough's standing aside as Special Minister of State while police investigate whether he encouraged the procurement of former Speaker Peter Slipper's diaries.

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