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'I was wrong': PM apologises for harassment complaint gaffe

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised for responding to a journalist’s question by airing an internal sexual harassment complaint he claimed happened within News Corp, conceding his account of events was incorrect and he “had no right” to raise the issue.

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The prime minister took to Facebook last night to say he “deeply regret(s)” his “insensitive” comments, after he was widely accused on Tuesday of weaponising a confidential harassment complaint to shield himself from scrutiny.

“I deeply regret my insensitive response to a question from a News Ltd journalist by making an anonymous reference to an incident at News Ltd that has been rejected by the company,” Morrison posted on Facebook.

“I accept their account. I was wrong to raise it, the emotion of the moment is no excuse.

“I especially wish to apologise to the individual at the centre of the incident and others directly impacted. I had no right to raise this issue and especially without their permission.”

Morrison made the comments speaking at a press conference on Tuesday to address further claims of sexual harassment and indecent behaviour at Parliament House, taking aim at Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell who had asked the prime minister whether he had lost control of his ministerial staff.

“Right now, you would be aware in your own organisation, there is a person who has had a complaint made against them for harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet,” Morrison said.

“And that matter is being pursued by your own HR department.

“So let’s not, all of us who sit in glass houses here, start getting into that.”

News Corp chairman Michael Miller later issued a stinging response, saying the prime minister’s claims were “simply untrue”.

“No complaint has been received and News Corp and Sky News are not dealing with a complaint,” Miller said.

Miller said the company’s human resources team had learned of a verbal exchange between two News Corp employees at Parliament House last year that was “not of a sexual nature”, “did not take place in a toilet” and “neither person made a complaint”.

The HR team wrote to one of the employees involved and the matter was resolved according to Miller.

“The prime minister appears to have joined these two matters and conflated them into an episode of harassment in a toilet,” he said.

“This is simply untrue and it undermines the principle that people must be able to raise issues safely and in confidence.”

The prime minister said at his press conference he was made aware of the issue on Monday night, and he raised it because he was “simply making the point that the problems that we are experiencing in this country are not confined simply to the offices of member and senators and ministers in this place”.

-with AAP

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