UTS student and UTSSA member, Freya Newman, has been charged following allegations that she illegally accessed files at the Whitehouse Institute of Design, according to reports from New Matilda and The Australian.
Newman was a part-time librarian at the Whitehouse Institute of Design, and is alleged to have breached Section 308H of the NSW Crimes Act which prohibits “unauthorised access to or modification of restricted data held in a computer,” an offence carrying a maximum prison sentence of two years.
It’s alleged that on May 20, the design school’s computer system was hacked. Documents suggesting that Frances Abbott had not received her scholarship on merit were subsequently reported via New Matilda on May 21.
The $60,000 scholarship received by Ms Abbott was not available to other students, and had been awarded only once before in the institute’s 25 year history – to the daughter of owner Leanne Whitehouse, Billie Whitehouse. Prime Minister Tony Abbott did not publicly disclose the scholarship on his Register of Members’ Interest.
It has also been reported that Ms Abbott had only one meeting with Leanne Whitehouse, and was awarded the scholarship in the same meeting. Leanne Whitehouse and chairman of the school, Les Taylor, a Liberal Party donor, are also understood to have lobbied the Prime Minister over education policy.
Vertigo contacted Ms Newman, however she was unable to comment amidst legal proceedings.
Fellow members of the UTSSA also chose not to comment on the matter.
A spokesperson for UTS said, “It is not the University’s place to comment on a matter that is before the police.”
The case will be heard at the Downing Centre Local Court on September 18.
Image via Sydney Morning Herald.