Brittany Higgins slams former boss Linda Reynolds
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins has slammed Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ refusal to answer questions in the Senate over her alleged rape citing privacy concerns.
Ms Higgins told news.com.au on Monday afternoon that she had watched the Senate question time and was disgusted with Senator Reynolds’ attempts to avoid questions by using her as a human shield.
“My privacy has been breached at every turn in this process,’’ Ms Higgins said.
“I don’t think she’s ever respected my privacy, so her sudden concern for it now, I find patently false.”
Asked if she would release Senator Reynolds’ from any “privacy” concerns and allow her to speak freely about how the issue was handled, Ms Higgins said: “of course”.
Ms Higgins was working for Senator Reynolds in March 2019 when she was allegedly raped by a colleague in her boss’s office at Parliament House after a night out. Ms Higgins claims she was forced to choose between her job and seeking justice.
Senator Reynolds has apologised for her handling of Ms Higgins’ allegations, breaking down while speaking about it in parliament last week.
On Monday, Senator Reynolds defended her decision to keep the Prime Minister in the dark over the alleged rape citing Ms Higgins’ privacy.
She then refused to answer a string of questions over what she knew and when she learned it insisting she was protecting private conversations.
“The reason for that, as I have consistently said here in this chamber, was that it was not my story to tell,’’ she said.
“It never was. I, at all times, took my lead from Brittany Higgins, in terms of what support she needed and who was to know about this and who was not. The advice is, whether it’s from 1800RESPECT or whether it’s from others, that you always take the lead of the individual, and that is what I did.”
But Ms Higgins said that she would prefer answers.
She said that Senator Reynolds had also never told her she was meeting with an Assistant Australian Federal Police (AFP) commissioner about the alleged rape.
“I had no idea she was meeting with the AFP about my sexual assault. The fact they escalated it to meeting with the assistant AFP commissioner, that’s news to me,’’ she said.
“She didn’t warn me at all. Then, in October 2019, she disclosed very personal information to my employer at the time. I don’t think she’s ever cared about my privacy.”
Ms Higgins has previously revealed that when a journalist raised a question about the security breach months later, Senator Reynolds contacted the chief of staff of her new boss, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.
Senator Reynolds repeatedly refused to answer questions in the Senate on Monday citing privacy concerns insisting that Ms Higgins story was “not my story to tell”.
As she declined to answer a string of questions from Labor senators on the matter on Monday, the Defence Minister insisted she had tried to respect Ms Higgins privacy at every step of the way.
She said this was the reason she never informed the Prime Minister of the alleged rape, despite meeting with the AFP assistant commissioner about the matter in April, 2019.
In the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed he did not learn of the alleged rape until news.com.au published the story on Monday, February 15.
“I first became aware of these matters on February 15 and my staff became aware of these matters of the sexual assault on February 12,’’’ he said.
“I’ve instructed my staff I would expect to be advised of such matters.”
The Prime Minister also confirmed he would report back to the House of Representatives about whether the alleged rapist was issued a lobbyist pass, visited Parliament House or had meetings at Parliament.