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

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 5, 2021

The Prime Minister is ending the week with the unprecedented situation of two cabinet ministers on stress leave over rape scandals.

Australia's attorney general Christian Porter is accused of raping a 16-year-old fellow student in 1988, an allegation he denies.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has released a statement apologising to Brittany Higgins after reports she called the former Liberal staffer a "lying cow".

Senator Reynolds is now on medical leave until next week.

As a result, she missed a sold-out speech at the National Press Club that Defence Industry representatives had flown to Canberra to attend, forcing the caterers to flog hundreds of takeaway lobsters at the bargain price of $10 a plate.

The Australian, which broke the news of the minister's remarks on Wednesday night, reported that some of those staff members then raised complaints about the "lying cow" comments with their superiors.

Lawyer Rebekah Giles, who is acting for Ms Higgins, said a legal letter has been sent to Senator Reynolds, demanding she withdraw her comments and apologise.

Higgins, 26, called the insult "incredibly hurtful" saying "that sort of behaviour and language is never excusable".

Ms Higgins' lawyers said the ex-staffer was appalled Senator Reynolds apologised to staff who heard the remark but not her.

"I have never questioned Ms Higgins' account of her alleged sexual assault and have always sought to respect her agency in this matter". Her comments, she said to me, related to the further commentary about levels of support provided, and her frustrations about how she felt that they were doing everything they believed in their power to provide support, clearly, over a period of time there was a very different view about that.

"I have consistently respected Ms Higgins' agency and privacy and said this is her story to tell and no one else's". "She knows those comments to have been inappropriate and wrong. they were made in her private office in a stressful week".

Higgins went on to say that Reynolds' comments are just a reflection of the kind of workplace she had to deal with in the aftermath of her alleged rape.

Opposition lawmakers have heavily criticised Ms Reynolds - some had already called on her to resign over her handling of Ms Higgins' case.

Ms Reynolds has apologised for labelling alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins a "lying cow".

"The minister deeply regrets saying these things and has offered an apology, as she should".

The PM asked for understand for Senator Reynolds.

Last Wednesday, it emerged that the senator had been admitted to hospital with a pre-existing medical condition and will take immediate medical leave, after 10 days of sustained pressure. But equally, there have been others who have been drawn into this.

"I find her position untenable, and it should be obvious to all", he said on Friday. "We didn't have anything of that nature happen between us".

Her death - reported to be suicide - is the subject of an ongoing coroner's investigation.

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