A former politician and Liberal Party veteran Robyn Nolan has offered an “unreserved apology” to Brittany Higgins after she made shocking comments about the former staffer at an ACT Liberal Party women’s event in Canberra.
Ms Nolan, who is also the current President of the Federal Women’s Committee in the Liberal Party, declined to detail exactly what she had said at the ACT Women’s Council meeting on Wednesday night.
News.com.au has been told what Ms Nolan allegedly said and cannot repeat the remarks for legal reasons. Ms Nolan declined to confirm or deny those remarks or detail exactly what she said other than it was “inappropriate”.
“I am deeply sorry for any comments I made,” Ms Nolan told news.com.au.
“They were inappropriate, and I apologise unreservedly. I apologise to Ms Higgins and, also, to all those who were at the event.”
Ms Nolan’s remarks have now prompted multiple complaints to the Liberal Party and calls for her to resign or be moved on from her current positions. Her term expires later this year.
Ms Nolan’s apology follows former Defence Minister Linda Reynolds apologising to Ms Higgins for calling her a “lying cow” after she came forward with a rape allegation.
“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,” she said.
The remark was in a private office but was overheard and offended some staff who complained.
Senator Reynolds said she was referring to Ms Higgins as a “lying cow” simply in relation to whether she got support after the allegation, not in relation to the allegation itself.
In recent weeks Senator Reynolds conducted a tell-all interview in The Weekend Australian where she revealed she paid Brittany Higgins compensation over her “lying cow” gibe simply to “make it go away” and was in such poor health that she was “in no state” to defend herself against a claim of defamation.
“I was paying for it to go away,” Senator Reynolds said. “I was in no state to defend myself.“
How she planned to defend calling her former staffer — who told police she was raped in the ministerial office — “a lying cow” was not explored further.
She also complained that she had been bullied by senior Labor politicians Penny Wong and Katy Gallagher when they subjected her to a barrage of questions about the matter.
Ms Higgins subsequently confirmed, despite speculation to the contrary, that she paid the money – $11,000 – to the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre.
A former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann was subsequently charged in relation to the matter and pleaded not guilty.
The first trial collapsed following juror misconduct and the DPP ultimately did not proceed with a second citing Ms Higgins mental health.
Mr Lehrmann has maintained his innocence since he was charged in August, 2021.
The controversy over Ms Nolan’s remarks emerged two years to the day that the Liberal Party was forced to clean up “disgusting” comments by Facebook users on the Liberal Party of Australia’s profile page.
A Liberal Party spokesman confirmed to news.com.au at the time that any offensive comments were deleted.
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