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Defence minister pays Higgins over remark

Embattled Defence Minister Linda Reynolds will have to compensate Brittany Higgins as part of a defamation settlement for calling her former staffer a “lying cow”.

Senator Reynolds – who remains on extended sick leave – has also apologised and retracted the statement.

“I am pleased that the minister has now withdrawn her comments and I accept her apology to me,” Ms Higgins said in a statement on Friday.

“This has been an immensely challenging period for me and I wish to reiterate that the only reason I have chosen to come forward is to help others.”

The undisclosed sum will go towards an organisation in the Canberra area that provides sexual abuse survivors counselling and support.

“These funds will assist them in this important work,” Ms Higgins said.

Senator Reynolds faces intense pressure over her handling of allegations raised by Ms Higgins, who says she was raped by a colleague at Parliament House in 2019.

Senator Reynolds was frustrated over suggestions she did not give enough support to Ms Higgins at the time of the incident, resulting in the “lying cow” remark.

“I wish to further address that comment that I made,” the minister said in a statement.

“I did not mean it in the sense it may have been understood.

“Given that the comment was made public, which I never intended, I also want to retract it and unreservedly apologise to Brittany Higgins and acknowledge the hurt and distress it caused to her.”

Ms Higgins has commenced police proceedings for the alleged rape.

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