Defence Minister Linda Reynolds apologises to Brittany Higgins for calling her a “lying cow” after Ms Higgins went public with allegations she was raped by another staffer in 2019.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has apologised to Brittany Higgins for calling her a “lying cow” after Ms Higgins went public with allegations she was raped by another staffer in 2019.
- Senator Reynolds says she is deeply sorry for any hurt the comments caused
- Lawyers for Ms Higgins sent a letter demanding the senator apologise yesterday
- Ms Higgins has made a formal police complaint alleging she was raped by a colleague in 2019
The Australian reported yesterday that Senator Reynolds made the comments to her staff in Parliament House a fortnight ago.
“I want to express how deeply sorry I am for these remarks and for any hurt and distress they have caused,” Senator Reynolds said in a statement.
Lawyers representing Ms Higgins issued a letter to the senator yesterday demanding a public apology for the “hurt and distress” the comments caused.
The letter also asked for an immediate and public withdrawal of the comments.
“In response to a letter from Ms Higgins’ lawyers yesterday afternoon, discussions are now underway through our legal representatives in an effort to resolve this matter as soon as possible, with any resolution to include an apology,” Senator Reynolds said.
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins described the language as “never excusable”.(Supplied
The Defence Minister also repeated that the comments were not a reference to the allegations Ms Higgins had made.
“I have never questioned Ms Higgins’ account of her alleged sexual assault and have always sought to respect her agency in this matter,” she said.
Ms Higgins has alleged that she was raped by a colleague in the senator’s office in March 2019 when Senator Reynolds was the then-defence industry minister.
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She has made a formal complaint to the Australian Federal Police about the alleged incident.
Yesterday, the former staffer said she appreciated it was a stressful time for the senator, who is on medical leave, but “that sort of behaviour and language is never excusable”.
“It’s just further evidence of the toxic workplace culture that occurs behind closed doors in Parliament House,” Ms Higgins said.
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday that the comments were “inappropriate and wrong” and Senator Reynolds had apologised to her staff before they were made public.
“I think she understood from my comments yesterday and my discussions yesterday that I was, I did not support those comments in any way, shape or form and I’m pleased that she’s taken her decision to apologise,” he said on Friday.
Mr Morrison said he was standing by the minister, who is on leave on the advice of her cardiologist after being admitted to hospital.