Kerryn Phelps targeted by homophonic emails, NSW Police counter-terrorism unit investigating

The first email claimed Dr Phelps was withdrawing from the byelection campaign following an HIV diagnosis, while others have said she was helping to spread measles because she is Jewish.

Dr Phelps said the final straw came this week when an email was distributed which named her three children. The GP has already made complaints to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

“The thing that made me really alarmed this week was that they actually mentioned my three children by name,” Dr Phelps said.

Liberal candidate Dave Sharma asked cyber terrorism experts to investigate the source of the emails. Credit:James Brickwood

“My family is concerned that there’s been an escalation in the content, particularly with my family members being named.”


All the emails urge voters to support the Liberal candidate, Dave Sharma. Dr Phelps has always maintained Mr Sharma’s campaign was not involved in the attacks.

Dr Phelps said the targeted email attack had been very distressing for her and her family.

“This is clearly an attempt to manipulate an election result and intimidate a candidate,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Sharma’s campaign team has handed a dossier of material to the AFP after engaging cyber security experts to investigate the emails.

Mr Sharma said the experts had located the servers hosting the emails and it appeared the messages were the work of a single person, who had changed servers multiple times to avoid detection.

Using sophisticated analytical tools, the cyber team had identified a number of email addresses and phone numbers believed to be associated with the perpetrator, Mr Sharma said.

“I have been highly disturbed by the malicious emails circulating during the course of this campaign,” Mr Sharma said.

“These emails have made disturbing and manifestly untrue allegations about candidates, including
myself, and are deeply hurtful to wide sections of the community.”

Mr Sharma said he would cooperate with the AFP.

Dr Phelps said she was “extremely disappointed” the AFP had not pursued the matter, despite her making at least two complaints to them.

Alexandra Smith is the State Political Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.

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