Brittany Higgins lodges complaint with Scott Morrison over alleged negative backgrounding by his office

Brittany Higgins has made a formal complaint to Scott Morrison’s chief of staff, asking him to investigate whether anyone in the prime minister’s office backgrounded against her loved ones.

Higgins wrote to John Kunkel after the prime minister suggested on Thursday that nobody from the parliamentary press gallery had raised the accusations with his chief of staff.

Morrison has been asked more than a dozen times in the parliament whether he has investigated allegations his staff tried to privately undermine Higgins or her loved ones.

He was asked again during a radio interview on Thursday whether he could say categorically that his office had not engaged in such behaviour.

“Nothing has been raised with my office from anyone in the gallery making any of those accusations or any discomfort about anything that my office has done,” he told the ABC.

“People make allegations all the time second, third-hand. But there’s no one who has raised that with my chief of staff out of the gallery, no.”

Brittany Higgins has written to Scott Morrison’s chief of staff over alleged negative ‘backgrounding’. Credit: AAP

Shortly after his comments, Higgins lodged a formal complaint.

“In the days following my interview with The Project regarding my experience in Parliament House, I was made aware by numerous journalists about the backgrounding that was happening to my partner,” she wrote to Kunkel.

“To my knowledge, this was being done by staff within the prime minister’s media team.

“I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. It is entirely plausible the prime minister did not know that this was happening, however the more relevant point is that it did occur.”

Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins arrives to address the Women's March 4 Justice in Canberra, Monday, March 15.
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins arrives to address the Women’s March 4 Justice in Canberra, Monday, March 15. Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAP

Higgins also requested to provide evidence to department secretary Phil Gaetjens, who is running an inquiry into which of the prime minister’s staff knew of her rape allegations before they were made public.

The investigation has been put on hold while police investigate the rape allegations.

“It is my express desire to present my evidence to Mr Gaetjens at the appropriate time once the review recommences,” Higgins wrote.

The furore engulfing the government was sparked by Higgins coming forward alleging she was raped by a colleague in 2019.

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