#AceNewsReport – Mar.31: Nikola Anderson, who has worked as a Parliament House security guard for 12 years, told Four Corners how she found Ms Higgins in the office of then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds after the alleged rape:
Parliament House security guard Nikola Anderson describes finding Brittany Higgins on night of alleged rape in minister’s office
updated Mon 22 Mar 2021 at 11:09am
Ms Anderson has also questioned the Prime Minister’s claim that there was a security breach at Parliament House, saying she wants to make it clear that the security guards on duty the night of the incident followed the correct procedures.
Ms Higgins, a former Liberal staffer, alleges she was raped by a colleague in Ms Reynolds’s office in 2019 after a night out.
The man at the centre of the allegations has not been charged with any crime.
Ms Anderson, a mother of three from suburban Canberra, is one of Parliament’s more experienced guards.
On March 22, 2019, her 11:00pm to 7:00am shift started as usual.
“I was the ministerial patrol; basically, my duties for the night were to patrol the ministerial wing, make sure that the doors were all locked and that there was no one in the suites, so that I could report back to the control room,” she said in an exclusive interview with Four Corners.
“Just do a normal, everyday check. Make sure fire doors and things are closed and make sure everything’s secure.”
‘It took us by surprise’
A few minutes away in the Canberra CBD, Ms Higgins and a colleague were leaving a nightclub, 88mph, after a night of drinking.
The colleague had offered Ms Higgins a lift home in a taxi, which she had accepted. He said he first needed to swing by Parliament House to pick something up.
CCTV from the night shows the pair arrived at Parliament House’s ministerial entrance at 1:50am.
Ms Anderson greeted them at the security desk.
“It kind of took us by surprise because they walked in at two in the morning, and it was a Friday night … well, Friday night, Saturday morning,” Ms Anderson told Four Corners.
“They basically walked in together. She was wearing a white cocktail dress. I’d noticed that she’d had grass stains down one side of her body on this pure white dress. He seemed to be quite dressed up as well. And it was just strange to us that they were there at that time of night together, wanting to go into the office.
“My colleague had made a comment and said, ‘Jeez guys, couldn’t this have waited until Monday?’ And the man had replied, ‘Oh, not really.'” Loading
Security says Higgins was visibly intoxicated
Ms Anderson began the security screening process. She said neither had their parliamentary passes, so she asked for ID and she looked them up on the internal system, which showed they were active pass holders and worked in the office of Senator Reynolds.
When Ms Higgins walked through the metal detector, her shoes set it off and she was told to remove them and try again.
“As she’s gone to put her shoes back on after she’s walked through and cleared herself, she couldn’t get them on,” Ms Anderson recalled.
“That’s how I realised how intoxicated this girl was because she just could not get her shoes on for the life of her.”
Ms Anderson issued the pair with what are known as Positively Identified Passes, or green passes, which allow holders unrestricted, unescorted access.
She took the pair up to Senator Reynolds’s office, unlocked the door and let them in before heading back downstairs to continue her shift.
Guard spoke of something ‘strange’
Once inside the office, Ms Higgins has said the male colleague began looking for the item he needed to retrieve and she fell asleep on a couch.
She later told news.com.au and Network Ten’s The Project that she woke to find the man on top of her.
“I woke up mid-rape, essentially,” she said.
“Um, I, I don’t know why I knew he was almost finished, but I’d, I’d felt like it had been going on for a while or that he was almost done. He was sweaty. I couldn’t get him off of me. At this point I started crying.”
CCTV shows the man left Parliament House at 2:35am, less than an hour after he had arrived with Ms Higgins.
At 3:00am, Nikola Anderson went to relieve a colleague at the ministerial entrance who was due for a meal break. He told her he thought the man had been acting strangely when he left.
“My colleague had tried to make conversation with him and he seemed to be in a hurry,” she said.
“That was when my colleague and I decided that we needed to push it up the chain and notify our night shift team leader that there might’ve been something a bit strange going on.”
An early morning welfare check
Ms Anderson’s team leader asked her to do a welfare check on Ms Higgins after her colleague returned from his break.
At 4:20am, she headed to Senator Reynolds’ office.
“As I approached Minister Reynold’s office, I opened the door and announced myself. So, yelling, ‘Security. Hello. Security, security’ … just so that she was aware that I was there,” she said.
“I got no response whatsoever.”
Ms Anderson pushed open the office door.
“As I’ve opened the door, I’ve noticed that the female was lying on her back, completely naked, on the lounge that was adjacent to the door, for which I’ve gone, ‘Oh,'” she told Four Corners.
“The sound of the door or the breeze of the door opening has then made the female open her eyes, look at me. And then she’s rolled over onto her side.
“So, therefore, my [take] on it was she’s conscious. She’s breathing. She’s doesn’t look like she’s in distress. She’s just sleeping off her night. And with that, I shut the door, and I exited the room.”
“I made sure her dignity was intact by shutting this door… I was trying to do the right thing by keeping her dignity intact.”
Ms Anderson said her initial reaction to finding Ms Higgins was one of shock.
“Oh God. And I mean, oh God, because I’ve never come across anything like that,” she said.
By the time Ms Anderson finished her shift at 7:00am, Ms Higgins had still not emerged from the office. Security then sent a second female guard to do another welfare check.
Four Corners has confirmed this guard called out to Ms Higgins through the closed door.
Ms Higgins left Parliament House at 10:00am and took an Uber to her Canberra home.
Claims of a security breach at Parliament House
On the Monday, Ms Higgins and the man she accuses of raping her returned to work. The next day the man was called into the office of their chief of staff, Fiona Brown.
According to Ms Higgins, when he left the office his head was bowed and he immediately cleared out his desk and left.
In February this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the man’s employment was terminated over a “security breach”, but neither Mr Morrison nor anyone else in the government has specified the nature of that breach.
Ms Anderson questions the claim.
“What was the security breach? Because the night that we were on shift, there was no security breach,” she said.
“Their pass enables them to be where they want to be within Parliament House. If they hadn’t worked for that minister, that would be a different story because we wouldn’t have allowed them entry because it’s not their office, they have no business being in there.
“But because these two people worked for Minister Reynolds, they were allowed access in there, which is why we granted it.”
Ms Anderson suggested Mr Morrison had been given “false information”.
Four Corners asked Mr Morrison’s office to explain the nature of the security breach, but the office declined on the basis that the matter was being investigated by police.
ACT Police contacted Ms Anderson a week ago, nearly two years after the alleged rape. She intends to give them a statement.
She said she decided to speak to Four Corners because of the fear that she could be “scapegoated” and lose her job if there is criticism of how security handled the matter.
“Nobody really knows the truth except me,” she said.
“So if I can piece together the bits that she might be lacking, why not? And then that also makes me look better in terms of the public eye, because security did actually do something.
“Security did do what they could, and would have done more had it have been required.”
#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Mar.31: 2021:
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