Linda Reynolds apologises to Brittany Higgins.
Senator Linda Reynolds has apologised for calling former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins a "lying cow" after she alleged she was raped by a colleague inside the Defence Minister's office in 2019.
"I want to express how deeply sorry I am for these remarks and for any hurt and distress they have caused," Reynolds said in a statement.
The Australian reported that Reynolds made the remark in front of staffers the day Higgins' went public with her allegations.
#BREAKING: Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has apologised to Brittany Higgins for referring to her as a "lying cow".— 10 News First (@10NewsFirst) March 5, 2021
"I want to express how deeply sorry I am for these remarks and for any hurt and distress they have caused," Reynolds said in a statement. pic.twitter.com/1eOBkN0iAK
A law firm representing Higgins earlier requested, "An immediate and unequivocal public withdrawal of (Ms Reynolds') comments and (an) apology to our client for the hurt and distress caused."
"The demeaning and belittling statement, in which you refer to our client as a member of the animal kingdom and declare her to be untruthful, is highly defamatory of our client's good character and unblemished reputation," the letter read.
Reynolds' statement said legal discussions were ongoing.
"In response to a letter from Ms Higgins' lawyers yesterday afternoon, discussions are now underway through our legal representatives in an effort to resolve this matter as soon as possible, with any resolution to include an apology," she said.
The Defence Minister repeated her claim that the comment was not a reference to the allegations Ms Higgins had made.
"I have never questioned Ms Higgins' account of her alleged sexual assault and have always sought to respect her agency in this matter," she said.
Reynolds is currently on medical leave.