Alleged diplomat victim criticises John Key

SPEAKING OUT: Tania Billingsley waived her right to name suppression.
SPEAKING OUT: Tania Billingsley waived her right to name suppression.

The woman allegedly sexually attacked by a Malaysian diplomat has called for the foreign minister to resign over her case and says the prime minister looked "bored" by it.

Tania Rose Billingsley, 21, spoke on TV3's 3rd Degree last night, after she waived her automatic right to name suppression.

She was allegedly assaulted by Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail in her home in Brooklyn, Wellington.


Rizalman was arrested on May 10 on charges of burglary and assault with intent to commit rape.

The same day the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a formal request that Rizalman, an assistant to the defence attache for the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, waive diplomatic immunity to face charges.

Malaysia has said that at a meeting with Mfat representatives an alternative was offered for the accused to return to Malaysia.

Rizalman left on May 22, a day after Malaysia declined the request to waive immunity - asking for the police case to be sealed.

In the 3rd Degree interview, she said she was angry her alleged attacker was allowed to leave, and called for Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully to resign.

She also criticised Prime Minister John Key.

Billingsley said on 3rd Degree: "I just remember the first, the very first thing I watched on it, and just seeing him looking bored and annoyed at having to be talking about it and just saying there's nothing that we can do pretty much. 'Oh it sucks but it is what it is.'

"And that's what I was getting. I don't feel from him any sincerity in his concern for me."

Key's office declined an interview with 3rd Degree, citing implications for the judicial process. McCully responded to the invitation saying he did not want to compromise the inquiry or criminal proceedings.

''I have publicly apologised to the young woman whose distress has been aggravated by the poor management of this case. The terms for a full inquiry into the matter are being finalised.''

Billingsley told 3rd Degree that she would like more than an apology from ''incompetent'' McCully.

''He was so intent on trying to put responsibility and blame on everybody else that you know, I just feel like he wasn't actually addressing and putting energy towards fixing what had happened,'' she said. ''I think he should resign.''

She felt like her views had not been listened to, she told 3rd Degree.

''The police have been good and they've definitely acknowledged in respect of where I'm coming from but at a higher level, there's been no attempt to really honour what I want.''

Key has previously said that McCully would not be asked to resign as he had been let down by officials.

Mfat chief executive John Allen said he had given Billingsley a letter of apology this week.

''I deeply regret the distress caused to the woman at the centre of this incident'' he said. ''I have apologised to her publicly and by letter. In dealing with this issue the ministry fell short of the standards expected of us. Our focus now is on performing the rest of our role in this matter to a high standard and on learning from the lessons that come out of the independent inquiry.''


Rizalman is expected to return to New Zealand to potentially face trial. He has been undergoing psychiatric evaluation in a military hospital near Kuala Lumpur.

The process to facilitate Rizalman's return to New Zealand is continuing with the support of Mfat, police said.


Billingsley believed the trauma she experienced had become a ''backdrop'' to political drama ''instead of a really real and traumatic experience''.

In an essay released on the 3rd Degree website, Billingsley spoke at length about her opinion of New Zealand society's reaction to sexual assaults as seen through the reaction of politicians to her case.

She believes New Zealand's attitudes towards sexual violence needed to change.

"I would like to put a personal challenge to the Government," she said. "The fact that sexual violence is still so rampant in our society is proof in itself that you are not doing  enough."

She said it was easy "to do a McCully" and avoid responsibility for the problem but "sexual violence is present in all parts of our society and therefore needs to be addressed by all parts of the Government. There have been recent actions towards addressing this but it is not  enough."

Police said they did not oppose Billingsley's application for her name to be made public, ''as we wanted to support [her] wishes".


Rape Prevention Education executive director Kim McGregor told NewstalkZB Billingsley was very brave to speak out.

"It takes a brave person to speak out about sexual violence, many people blame themselves and don't come forward."

Only 10 out of 100 sexual assaults will be reported to police, of them three will go to court and only one will end in a conviction, she said.

Victim blaming in New Zealand needed to be addressed to change this, she said.

"It's really heartening that young feminists are speaking out so strongly.

"The general public and media often focus on young women who are drinking and wearing short skirts.

"In fact we need to flip that on its head and look at men who are targeting women."

Counselling services for victims of sexual assault had been lacking in resources for two to three decades, she said.

The Dominion Post