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Taxpayers Foot Dirty Dyson’s Million Dollar High Court Harassment Bill

Taxpayers foot Dirty Dyson’s million dollar High Court harassment bill

Taxpayers will foot a million dollar bill for High Court judge Dyson Heydon’s sexual harassment of three women.

The law firm representing the women said it had reached “an historic settlement” with the Commonwealth – believed to be in the millions of dollars.

However, a non-disclosure agreement signed by the women means the exact amount of the settlement will remain secret.

Labor MP Doctor Andrew Leigh wants the details disclosed in the interests of transparency.  

Taxpayers foot Dirty Dyson's million dollar High Court harassment bill

Chelsea Tabart, Rachael Patterson Collins and Alex Eggerking will receive more than a million dollars compensation from the Commonwealth.

Taxpayers foot million dollar bill for Dirty Dyson

An independent investigation previously found Heydon had sexually harassed Rachael Patterson Collins, Chelsea Tabart and Alex Eggerking.

Lawyer Josh Bornstein today described the impact the harassment had on his client’s lives and careers.

“After their experience of working in the High Court, Rachael, Chelsea and Alex have been unable to pursue the legal careers that they aspired to,” he said.

“Indeed, they were so severely impacted by what happened that it took them years to come forward to pursue this matter.”

Bornstein said the compensation included his client’s future potential earnings.

“Detailed actuarial and other evidence was prepared in aid of their claims,” he said.

“That actuarial material sought to effectively model the loss of a legal career for a typical High Court associate.

“Many former High Court associates pursue successful careers as barristers and some are then appointed as judges.”

Taxpayers foot Dirty Dyson's million dollar High Court harassment bill

Rachael Patterson Collins said Heydon made repeated advances toward her, while Chelsea Tabart said the justice put his hand on her thigh while having an after-dinner drink.

The harassment

Legal assistant Chelsea Tabart previously claimed that on her first day working for Heydon as a 22 year-old, he invited her for a drink after an office dinner.

He then took her to a private room at a prestigious club and put his hand on her thigh.

Former associate, Rachael Patterson Collins, said Heydon made repeated advances toward her, including asking if he could kiss her.

When she asked him why she said he replied, “Because you’re beautiful”.

Accounts believed

Following the independent investigation, Chief Justice Kiefel said “their accounts of their experiences at the time have been believed”.

“We are ashamed that this could have happened at the High Court of Australia,”

“The findings are of extreme concern to me, my fellow justices, our chief executive and the staff of the court.”.

Taxpayers foot Dirty Dyson's million dollar High Court harassment bill

Justice Heydon has previously emphatically denied “any allegation of sexual harassment or any offence”.

Heydon denies wrongdoing

Justice Heydon previously emphatically denied “any allegation of sexual harassment or any offence”.

A statement issued by his lawyers said:

“In respect of the confidential inquiry and its subsequent confidential report, any allegation of predatory behaviour or breaches of the law is categorically denied by our client.

“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.”


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Taxpayers should be furious

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan said taxpayers should be furious about the settlements.

“It is outrageous that the public has to pay for the appalling and unlawful conduct of a highly paid High Court judge,” he said.

“The person responsible for the behaviour should be paying the compensation owed to these women – and that’s Mr Heydon himself.”

Mr Heffernan said the amount of compensation paid to the women is appropriate.

“The courts have made it clear that they will not tolerate sexual harassment,” he said.

“Recent decisions have seen huge penalties imposed on perpetrators, in addition to substantial damages in the hundreds of thousands of dollars awarded to victims.”

Mr Heffernan encouraged anyone who has experienced sexual harassment to seek urgent expert advice from an employment law specialist.

Taxpayers foot Dirty Dyson's million dollar High Court harassment bill

Labor MP Doctor Andrew Leigh previously worked as a High Court associate for Justice Michael Kirby in the 1990s.

More transparency

Labor MP Doctor Andrew Leigh previously worked as a High Court associate for Justice Michael Kirby in the 1990s.

This afternoon he called for the exact amount of compensation paid to the women be disclosed.

“I think the government needs to provide more transparency with the people who are paying the bills,” he said.

“The Australian taxpayer is paying for this, this isn’t Liberal Party money… the government is once again trying to hide from scrutiny.”

Meanwhile, Attorney-General Michaela Cash apologised to the women.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to commit to stripping the former judge of his AC.


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