Helen Dale, the award-winning novelist who invented her Ukrainian identity is the new adviser to crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm.
She’s had three identities, she has three law degrees, and now she’s been appointed as an adviser to David Leyonhjelm, the Liberal Democrat senator who shares the balance of power in the upper house.
Helen Dale, once known as Helen Demidenko, wrote the award-winning novel The Hand that Signed the Paper two decades ago, the story of a Ukrainian family that sided with the Nazis in World War II.
But she gained notoriety when it was revealed she had blurred the lines between fact and fiction, inventing her own Ukrainian heritage.
The celebrated writer was unmasked as Helen Darville, the daughter of British migrants.
Since then she’s studied in Queensland, Edinburgh and Oxford and will arrive in Canberra as a senior adviser to crossbench Senator Leyonhjelm.
Senator Leyonhjelm said although she joined the Liberal Democratic Party in 2006, Ms Dale only contacted him a few weeks ago to work for him.
“She’s an outstanding lawyer, she’s topped her class both in Queensland and at Oxford and she’s also a brilliant writer. That combination appealed to me,” he told ABC radio.
“She’ll be working on policy issues. She’s pretty strong on the same-sex marriage issue, government transparency, assisted suicide, social issues like that.”
Mr Leyonhjelm said the controversy of Ms Dale’s past won’t affect her political future.
“She’s the youngest ever winner of the Miles Franklin literary award,” he said.
“That award is for a work of fiction, so she extended the fiction into her authorship.”
“I recall at the time thinking it was hilarious, it was a big joke and she kept up the fiction for quite a while. Then, when they realised she was pulling their leg they turned on her, which I thought was very unkind.”