The federal government is considering tightening the rules for a taxpayer-funded legal support scheme for Australians arrested overseas after an accused paedophile accessed the program.
The attorney general, Christian Porter, has called on his department to review the serious overseas criminal matters scheme and consider if people accused of sexual offences should be barred.
Peter Scully, an Australian accused of raping and trafficking two girls in the Philippines, may have been accessing the scheme since his arrest in 2015. He has received up to $500,000 to cover legal costs in his case, the Australian reported on Tuesday.
He said the decision to grant Scully access had been made by his predecessor, George Brandis. Access to the scheme is granted by the Attorney General’s Department if a person has been arrested overseas and faces a 20-year jail term or the death penalty.
Scully has been accused of repeatedly raping two teenage girls who were found naked and chained in his apartment bedroom in the port town of Cagayan de Oro in 2014. He has pleaded not guilty to five counts of rape and one of human trafficking.
He fled to the Philippines from Melbourne in 2011 after being charged with fraud.