A shock claim about the harassment of a journalist in a women’s toilet has triggered a rebuke from News Corp Australia to Prime Minister Scott Morrison over his assertion the company was dealing with a human resources complaint over the matter.
News Corp executive chairman Michael Miller declared Mr Morrison’s statement to be “simply untrue” and said there was no such incident in a toilet and no complaint before the company.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed in a press conference there was a harassment case being investigated within News Corp, which the company has denied.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
The sharp response came after Mr Morrison took aim at the media during a press conference on Tuesday over his response to claims of rape and sexual assault in Parliament House, arguing the media had problems of its own.
Asked by Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell about whether he had “lost control” of staff given the sacking of a man for performing sex acts on a female MP’s desk, the Prime Minister claimed an incident in the media.
“Right now, you would be aware that in your own organisation that there is a person who has had a complaint made against them for harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet and that matter is being pursued by your own HR department,” he said.
“So let’s not all of us who sit in glass houses here start getting into that.”
News Corp executive chairman Michael Miller said the “extraordinary public claims” were untrue.
“Prime Minister Scott Morrison was wrong today to claim an investigation is under way into a complaint accusing an employee of harassment against a woman in a female toilet,” Mr Miller said in a statement.
“No complaint has been received and News Corp and Sky News are not dealing with a complaint.”
Mr Miller said News Corp and Sky News took the issues seriously and were only responding because Mr Morrison had made the claim in a live press conference aired nationwide on Tuesday.
“I want to put to rest any suggestion that an employee of our company is being investigated for conduct suggested by Mr Morrison,” he said.
“In recent weeks, following the reporting of matters of sexually inappropriate behaviour at Parliament House, our HR team proactively gave our staff the opportunity to talk to us in confidence about their wellbeing. I thank those who did so.”
Mr Miller acknowledged there was a verbal exchange between two News Corp employees in Parliament House in Canberra last year but he said it was not about sexual harassment.
“The exchange was about a workplace-related issue, it was not of a sexual nature, it did not take place in a toilet and neither person made a complaint,” he said.
“Following those inquiries, our HR team wrote to one of the people involved and the matter was resolved.
“The Prime Minister appears to have joined these two matters and conflated them into an episode of harassment in a toilet that is under current investigation.
“This is simply untrue and it undermines the principle that people must be able to raise issues safely and in confidence.”
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