MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s protection minister on Friday settled a defamation grievance and agreed to pay damages to a former aide whom she known as a “mendacity cow” after the lady reported being raped within the Parliament constructing.
The minister, Linda Reynolds, retracted the comment made in non-public after legal professionals for the previous aide, Brittany Higgins, despatched a letter final week to Ms. Reynolds demanding a public apology for the “demeaning and belittling” remark. The letter described the comment as “defamatory of our shopper’s good character and unblemished fame,” in response to native information stories.
Final week, Ms. Reynolds issued a proper apology, saying she had by no means questioned Ms. Higgins’s account. On Friday, in a short public statement, the minister retracted the remark, which, she mentioned, she had “by no means supposed” to make public.
“I didn’t imply it within the sense that it has been understood,” Ms. Reynolds mentioned.
It was not instantly clear how a lot Ms. Reynolds agreed to pay in damages. In a textual content message, the minister’s workplace declined to disclose the quantity. Ms. Higgins didn’t instantly reply to calls or textual content messages looking for clarification. However she said in a statement that damages past the price of her authorized charges could be donated to a charity supporting sexual assault survivors.
Ms. Higgins mentioned final month that she had been assaulted by a co-worker within the minister’s workplace two years in the past, whereas she was working as a media adviser for Ms. Reynolds. Ms. Higgins mentioned that after she advised the minister and different employees members what had occurred, she was made to really feel that she would lose her job if she reported it to the police and felt unsupported by Ms. Reynolds. Ms. Higgins has since made a proper grievance to the Australian police.
She additionally mentioned that days after she was assaulted, she had been questioned by Ms. Reynolds in the identical room.
Final week, information.com.au reported that the protection minister had referred to Ms. Higgins as a “mendacity cow” to employees members in her workplace after Ms. Higgins got here ahead. Some employees members raised considerations on the time, and Ms. Reynolds had apologized to them, saying it was a “worrying time,” in response to information.com.au.
Ms. Higgins mentioned that Ms. Reynolds’s language about her was “additional proof of the poisonous office tradition that happens behind closed doorways in Parliament Home.”
In response to the retraction on Friday, Ms. Higgins mentioned in her assertion: “I’m happy that the Minister has now withdrawn her feedback and I settle for her apology to me.” She added, “This has been an immensely difficult interval for me and I want to reiterate that the one motive I’ve chosen to return ahead is to assist others.”