A public service-led inquiry launched into the aftermath of the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins in March 2019 has been suspended on legal advice.
It follows news that the man accused of raping the former Liberal Party staffer in a minister's office at Parliament House will protest his innocence after being charged earlier this month.
The inquiry led by Phil Gaetjens, the prime minister's departmental secretary, was called in February to investigate who in the prime minister's office had knowledge of the alleged sexual assault and when, following claims Scott Morrison's staffers were aware of the allegations but had not informed him.
It's not the first time the inquiry has been put on hold, following earlier concerns by the Australian Federal Police in March the inquiry would interfere with the police investigation.
Shane Drumgold, ACT Director of Public Prosecutions, has reportedly advised the inquiry could equally interfere with the new legal proceedings.
"Further, based on the media surrounding the inquiry, I assume the investigation and resulting report will publish Mr Gaetjens' investigations and resulting opinions on the details, timing and scope of any complaints made by the complainant," Mr Drumgold wrote.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Gaetjens said he sought legal advice last week and on the basis of that advice has suspended his inquiry until the conclusion of the criminal trial.
"This is to ensure that the inquiry can have no adverse impact on the criminal prosecution," he said.
"The action I have taken is strictly in response to the legal advice I have received, and does not relate to any of the content of the inquiry. No inferences in relation to that content can be drawn from the legal advice nor my decision to suspend the inquiry."
Mr Morrison was advised of the decision.
Ms Higgins went public in February with allegations she had been raped by a colleague in the office of then defence industry minister Linda Reynolds.
She initially spoke to detectives from ACT Policing's sexual assault and child abuse team in April 2019, but she only made a formal complaint earlier this year.