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Whistleblower s anguish after house search
Whistleblower's anguish after house search

A whistleblower who raised concerns about the management of Peel Health Campus said she felt violated when a lawyer acting for the hospital's private operator went through her belongings, including a memory box of treasured reminders of her dead child.

A lawyer acting for Health Solutions WA searched the home of the hospital's former chief operating officer Ashton Foley and removed her computers and phones after being granted an order by the Supreme Court last week.

Mrs Foley, who will give evidence about the hospital to a parliamentary committee today, said the search was unnecessarily intrusive and she was tearful when she recounted how a lawyer rummaged through the memory box of her daughter Sarah, who died aged 20 months from pneumonia and premature birth complications.

Speaking publicly for the first time since HSWA lawyers started legal proceedings against her, Mrs Foley said she had not opened the box since Sarah's funeral in 2010.

She said the box, labelled "In memory of Sarah Foley", included plaster moulds of the child's feet, sympathy cards and the clothes she wore on the night she died.

"I felt violated and it opened up old wounds," Mrs Foley said.

Lawyer John Hammond, acting for Mrs Foley, yesterday lodged a complaint with Mandurah police about a phone threat and other harassment of Mrs Foley.

Mr Hammond said allegations made in Parliament by shadow health minister Roger Cook, who said HSWA had defrauded taxpayers by unnecessarily admitting patients into the hospital so it could claim extra money from the Health Department, must be investigated.

HSWA agreed to repay $1.79 million to the Health Department after an audit found patients did not meet the admission criteria.

HSWA managing director Neale Fong said he had no reason to believe the "Anton Piller" search of Mrs Foley's home was not carried out to the highest standard.

"The Anton Piller provision has very strict legal criteria for how it is carried out, including that an independent solicitor must be present to oversee the search," Dr Fong said, adding he was deeply troubled to hear about the threatening phone call to Mrs Foley.

"Any suggestion that PHC or its lawyers could be involved in such tactics is unfounded," he said.

Management had nothing to hide from the committee, he said.