Police have contacted the high court about the Dyson Heydon case, confirming that “enquiries are underway” and that a prosecutorial referral is being treated “very seriously”.
The Australian Capital Territory chief police officer, Neil Gaughan, told local ABC radio on Wednesday that police had contacted the high court registrar about former justice Heydon.
An ACT policing spokesman wouldn’t say whether police had actually opened a formal investigation of the matter.
“Due to privacy, ACT policing will not be making further comment on whether an individual is under investigation or not,” he said.
But Gaughan said a referral received from ACT director of public prosecutions, Shane Drumgold, was being treated seriously.
“We’ve spoken to the [registrar] of the high court, we’ve got some enquiries underway,” he said. “I do encourage, however, anyone out there who has been subjected to assault or sexual assault to please get in contact with ACT policing.
“We can talk through the process, we’ll keep it confidential. But we’re taking the referral from the director of DPP [sic] very seriously and we’ll look into it very thoroughly.”
Gaughan said he didn’t want to put a timeline on the work currently being conducted by police. He said police were handling the matter with care and in a “methodical fashion”.
The police chief also said ACT policing, the local community policing arm of the Australian federal police, was in conversation with its national counterpart.
“I’m also in consultation with the national side of the AFP because there’s a possibility that if there has been any assault or anything like that – and again it’s a possibility, no claims have been made at this stage – it’s possible it could be other jurisdictions outside the ACT.”
Heydon has flatly denied any sexual harassment or offence. In a statement through his lawyers, Speed and Stracey, he said: “Any allegation of predatory behaviour or breaches of the law is categorically denied.”
An independent investigation commissioned by the high court found Heydon had sexually harassed six court associates.
The Guardian revealed on Wednesday that the New South Wales supreme court would consider revoking a key card given to Heydon that grants him after-hours access to “secure areas” of the building where more than 100 judge’s associates are still employed.
The high court has also written to more than 100 other former associates, inviting them to share their experiences at the court with the former inspector general of intelligence and security, Dr Vivienne Thom, who led the investigation into Heydon.