Accused paedophile 'used up to $500k in taxpayers' funds' to fight legal battle in Philippines

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.

Attorney-General Christian Porter has called on his department to review the Serious Overseas Criminal Matters Scheme and consider if persons accused of sexual offences should be barred.

Australian Peter Scully, who's accused of raping and trafficking two girls in the Philippines, may have been accessing the scheme since his arrest in 2015.

He's received up to half a million dollars to cover legal costs in his ongoing case, The Australian reported on Tuesday.

Peter Scully with his lawyer outside court Cagayan de Oro City, the Philippines in 2015. Source: Getty Images

"I had already asked my department for information on the scheme, including this particular case, with a view to considering changes to the scheme, so that persons in circumstances similar to Mr Scully, or those with histories of sexual offending and relevant convictions, would no longer be eligible," Mr Porter told the media outlet.

Mr Porter also said the decision to grant Scully access was made by his predecessor George Brandis.

Access to the Serious Overseas Criminal Matters 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 outside court in handcuffs and (right) before his arraignment in 2015. Source: AAP/ Getty Images

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's pleaded not guilty to five counts of rape and one of human trafficking.

Scully fled to the Philippines from Melbourne in 2011 after being charged with fraud.

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