After alleging she had been raped in Parliament House, former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins has issued a formal complaint to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's chief of staff, John Kunkel, accusing government staff of backgrounding her, her partner and her family, as well as alleging spreading rumours.
Higgins was reportedly first told by journalists that "backgrounding" was happening behind the scenes—a practice where journalists are briefed with information that the source, including from a political office, does not want attributed to them, per ABC News.
On Thursday, March 25, Higgins wrote to Kunkel after Scott Morrison said in an interview with the ABC that no one from the parliamentary press gallery had "raised that", in reference to the backgrounding, with his chief of staff.
“No one in the [parliamentary press] gallery, 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," the PM told 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.”
Following Morrison's comments, Higgins wrote to make the 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 against my partner,” she wrote, adding, “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,” Higgins continued. “It is entirely plausible the prime minister did not know that this was happening, however, the more relevant point is that it did occur.”
The PM has said he was aware of the letter and would respond later today.
"I have seen and received that correspondence and I will be responding to Brittany Higgins in the course of today," he said.