DFAT director resigned over links to animal rights group

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday May 19, 2020

Adobe

A senior public servant from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has resigned after an investigation found she had failed to declare her connections to an animal rights website.

DFAT’s director of agricultural development and food security Julie Delforce is the mother of the animal activist group Aussie Farms founder Chris Delforce.

The website came under fire last year when it published the locations of farms, dairies, and abattoirs across the country, as well as photographs and videos displaying their treatment of animals.

DFAT commissioned Clayton Utz to undertake an investigation into Delforce in November, stating it had “serious concerns” about Delforce’s reported connections to animal rights activist websites.

“Dr Delforce is on paid leave, in accordance with general employment law principles, while this investigation is underway. The department will not make any further comment while the matter is under investigation,” the department said at the time.

On Monday a DFAT spokesperson told ABC News the investigation, which was reviewed by two external decision-makers from other government agencies, found Delforce had failed to comply with departmental requirements.

“This was in accordance with the Australian Public Service Commission’s guidelines for investigations into allegations of breaches of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct,” they said.

“This process found Dr Delforce had not reported her connections to Aussie Farms in accordance with departmental requirements.

“The department sanctioned Dr Delforce in line with the decisions of the external decisionmakers.

“Subsequently, Dr Delforce resigned from the department.”

Delforce’s LinkedIn states that she has retired.

Chris Delforce told ABC News he had registered websites to his parents’ ABN six to seven years ago, unbeknownst to them. He said his mother had no control over his websites.

Aussie Farms had its charity status revoked in November, and the federal government made it an offence to use websites or social media to incite trespassing on farms.

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