Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has apologised for calling alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins a “lying cow”, after settling a defamation case over the comment.
Reynolds made the comment to her staff last month, the same day Higgins publicly alleged she was raped by a then-staffer of the minister in her office in Parliament House in Canberra in 2019.
“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,” Reynolds said in a statement on Friday.
“I did not mean it in the sense it may have been understood.”
Reynolds remains on extended sick leave.
Higgins has welcomed the settlement of an undisclosed sum.
She said it will go towards the “important work” of an organisation in the Canberra area that provides sexual abuse survivors counselling and support.
“I am pleased that the minister has now withdrawn her comments and I accept her apology to me,” she said in a statement.
“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.”
Higgins has commenced police proceedings for the alleged rape.
Reynolds has faced intense pressure over her handling of allegations raised by Higgins, who says she was raped by a male after a night out in Canberra.