Sunday, April 11, 2021

Linda Reynolds: Australian minister ‘regrets’ slur on alleged rape victim – PM

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Linda Reynolds is reported to have called Brittany Higgins a ‘lying cow’

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said his minister “deeply regrets” making “offensive remarks” about an alleged rape victim.

Linda Reynolds has not a report that she referred to her former aide Brittany Higgins as a “lying cow”.

When asked if Ms Reynolds should quit, the PM said her remark had come “in her private office in a stressful week”.

Ms Higgins’ accusation that she was raped by one of Ms Reynolds’ ex-advisers has rocked the government.

Last month, Ms Higgins alleged she had been attacked in Ms Reynolds’ office after a night out in 2019. The man was later sacked for a separate reason.

The Australian newspaper reported Ms Reynolds had made her disparaging remark on the day Ms Higgins told her story to the media.

In a statement, Ms Reynolds said she had never questioned Ms Higgins’ allegation.

“I did however comment on news reports surrounding circumstances that I felt had been misrepresented,” the defence minister said late on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Mr Morrison said he had spoken to Ms Reynolds and she had acknowledged the comments were “inappropriate and wrong”.

Ms Higgins’ decision to go public has prompted a wave of other allegations – including a rape accusation against Attorney General Christian Porter which he strongly denies.


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

“She’s gone this morning. She needs to resign immediately,” said independent Jacqui Lambie on Thursday.

Independent MP Zali Steggall said: “It makes her position all the more untenable.”

Ms Reynolds took a period of medical leave last Wednesday amid public pressure over the response by her office to Ms Higgins’ allegation.

Last month in parliament she said she was “deeply sorry that some of my actions and handling of this matter added to Brittany’s distress”.

Ms Higgins has told local media she felt unsupported by her boss and pressure that she would lose her job if she reported her alleged rape to police.

In the fortnight since she went public, other women have come forward with allegations against the same man. Allegations against others have also been aired publicly.

In the most high-profile case, Mr Porter – a senior government minister – was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in 1988, when he was aged 17. Mr Porter has strongly rejected the allegation.

Police have closed their investigation, citing “insufficient admissible evidence. The woman took her own life last year.

Mr Porter – who as attorney general is Australia’s top legal officer – has said he will not stand down and retains Mr Morrison’s support.

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