Emma Husar launches defama­tion suit over 'slut-sham­ing' Buz­zFeed re­port

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Katharine Mur­phy po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor

The La­bor MP Emma Husar says she has launched defama­tion pro­ceed­ings against Buz­zFeed for a “slut-sham­ing” story that led to her an­nounc­ing she would not re-con­test her seat at the next elec­tion.

An emo­tional Husar, who rep­re­sents the Syd­ney seat of Lind­say, rose af­ter ques­tion time on Thurs­day to de­clare she was “not a bully, I am not Sharon Stone, I am not a thief, and I did not de­lib­er­ately mis­use my work ex­penses”.

“I will fight for my in­tegrity, for my fam­ily, and for Lind­say, which is full of bat­tlers just like me and fight for ev­ery woman who comes af­ter me,” Husar said. “I’m go­ing to do my bit, Mr Speaker, to en­sure that this never hap­pens again”.

Buz­zFeed re­vealed in July that New South Wales La­bor had com­mis­sioned a bar­ris­ter to in­ves­ti­gate Husar af­ter a num­ber of for­mer staff made com­plaints against her.

The in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into com­plaints that staff in Husar’s of­fice were sub­jected to bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment con­cluded that var­i­ous al­le­ga­tions of lewd con­duct and sex­ual ha­rass­ment were not sup­ported.

How­ever, the re­view did find cause for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the al­le­ga­tions of the mis­use of pub­lic en­ti­tle­ments. It also found that com­plaints that staff were made to per­form non­work-re­lated and per­sonal du­ties for Husar did have merit.

In Au­gust, Husar de­clared “enough is enough” and an­nounced she had made “the ag­o­nis­ing de­ci­sion” to leave pol­i­tics on her own terms and not con­test the next fed­eral elec­tion.

She later re­versed that de­ci­sion, sig­nalling she wanted to re­main as the La­bor can­di­date – but the NSW branch has moved on, and she will not win en­dorse­ment in the seat. Husar may run as an in­de­pen­dent.

Husar on Thurs­day ac­cused Buz­zFeed, and the po­lit­i­cal jour­nal­ist Al­ice Work­man, of “shame­less mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion”. She said af­ter the “gross mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion, and the slut-sham­ing smears” were pub­lished and went vi­ral, she was asked to re­sign as the mem­ber for Lind­say.

The La­bor MP said Buz­zFeed “knew I was bound by con­fi­den­tial­ity un­der the Whe­lan process I was be­ing ex­am­ined by, but they went ahead and they pub­lished their slut-sham­ing story know­ing, with full in­tent, that it would go vi­ral”.

“Let me cor­rect the record. They didn’t give me any no­tice in ad­vance. They didn’t give me the op­por­tu­nity to seek re­lease from my con­fi­den­tial­ity obli­ga­tions so that I could re­spond,” she told the cham­ber.

“They didn’t give me the op­por­tu­nity to use our le­gal sys­tem to pre­serve the con­fi­den­tial process un­til it had prop­erly played out.

“Sun­light is al­ways the best dis­in­fec­tant and, to­day, I bathe those mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions in a flood of light.”

Husar said she had launched defama­tion pro­ceed­ings “to re­mind them that they are not above the rule of law in this great coun­try of ours”.

A spokesper­son for Buz­zFeed told Guardian Aus­tralia: “We’re aware that pro­ceed­ings have been is­sued. We’re con­sid­er­ing our po­si­tion with our lawyers and will re­spond in due course.”

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