Higgins responds to Linda Reynolds' slur

Linda Reynolds Australian minister 'regrets' slur on alleged rape victim

Linda Reynolds Australian minister 'regrets' slur on alleged rape victim

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Defence Minister Linda Reynolds "deeply regretted" the slur against her former staffer Brittany Higgins, who last month came forward with claims of serious sexual assault.

Yesterday, The Australian reported the defence minister, who is now on medical leave, made the remark in front of staffers on the day Ms Higgins went public with her rape allegations.

Ms Reynolds insisted she had never questioned Ms Higgins' account of the night in question, and said the remark was directed at the alleged victim's subsequent criticism of the support offered to her.

"Discussions are now under way through our legal representatives in an effort to resolve this matter as soon as possible, with any resolution to include an apology", she said.

"However, in the meantime, I want to express how deeply sorry I am for these remarks and for any hurt and distress they have caused".

Brittany Higgins made a formal statement to Australian Federal Police last week and said she had not previously done so for fear of losing her job.

In a statement, Higgins said that the language was "incredibly hurtful" and demanded that Reynolds publicly apologize or face possible legal action.

She bowed to pressure from Ms Higgins' lawyers the next day, apologising to the former staffer for "any distress and hurt" the comments caused.

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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Mr Morrison also stressed that Ms Reynolds had not made the comments in relation to Ms Higgins' claims of sexual assault.

Government upper house leader Simon Birmingham said Senator Reynolds needed to apologise to Ms Higgins' satisfaction.

"I spoke to Minister Reynolds this morning about this matter", Morrison said.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has apologised to Brittany Higgins after reports the minister called her a "lying cow".

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said his cabinet colleague wasn't questioning the veracity of the rape allegations, but responding to suggestions she hadn't offered enough support.

But she's attempted to defend the remarks by explaining that the revelation by news.com.au that the ex-staffer was allegedly raped on her office couch was "a stressful time in the office". They weren't made in a public place and nor were they intended for that. "And she made the appropriate apologies to her staff and rectified that".

"People directly involved by these events are our primary concern". But equally, there have been others who have been drawn into this.

"I'm sure that all of you have found yourself, at a time of frustration, perhaps saying things you regret", he told reporters on Wednesday. "This was a comment made during a period which was very traumatic and very stressful", he said. They were offensive remarks.

"The cavalier manner in which those words were spoken make it plain that they were not spoken privately or in confidence". I don't condone them.

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