The Labor MP accused of bullying and ‘doing a Sharon Stone’ is suing Buzzfeed for defamation

Member for Lindsay Emma Husar tells Parliament she is suing BuzzFeed for defamation during the final hours of the 2018 sitting year. Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images
  • In August, damaging claims of inappropriate behaviour by MP Emma Husar, contained in a confidential document, were leaked to BuzzFeed and published.
  • While an investigation into the claims concluded the most serious allegations were “not supported”, she had already been told to resign as the member for Lindsay in western Sydney.
  • Today Husar said she is suing BuzzFeed and the journalist responsible for defamation.

Emma Husar, the first-term Labor MP cast into the national spotlight in August over allegations that she “flashed” colleague Jason Clare in his parliamentary office, is suing Buzzfeed, the website that published the claim, and journalist Alice Workman for defamation.

An internal ALP investigation into the western Sydney MP by barrister John Whelan subsequently found that claims that she engaged in lewd conduct, sexual harassment and misled Parliament were “not supported”.

Within a week of a string of allegations about inappropriate behaviour being aired, Husar announced that she would leave politics at the next election.

When Whelan released his report, he concluded there was there was no basis for her resignation from Parliament, and condemned leaks of the allegations against her as “reprehensible”.

As parliament prepared to rise for the long summer break, the member for Lindsay rose to say she wanted to correct the record on what she called “the slut-shaming smears going viral”.

Husar said she was told to resign within 36 hours of the claims being made public, but she was unable to defend herself because she was bound by a confidential process.

“Too often during these past six months I have had to bite my tongue, and not defend myself publicly whilst being misrepresented,” she said.

Husar’s version of the publication day, minute by minute

She took aim at Buzzfeed journalist Alice Workman saying that while the August 2 story saying its claim that she had been contacted for comment prior to publication was false.

“At 9.34am, one minute after publication, she emailed me, requesting comment and answers to those 48 questions for the article that she had already published. I had no chance to refute or respond,” Husar said.

“At 9.35am she further tweeted that I had bragged about who I was having sex with, that I sexually harassed an employee and intentionally exposed myself like Sharon Stone’s character in Basic Instinct. In front of a colleague and his infant son.

“As a result of the initial misrepresentation, over 225 articles were republished each and every single one of them, misrepresenting me in so many respects.”

Husar said the publication knew she was bound by confidentiality as part of the investigation process.

“Let me correct the record: They didn’t give me any notice in advance, they didn’t give me the opportunity to seek a release from my confidentiality obligations so that I could respond, they didn’t give me any opportunity to try to use our legal system to preserve the confidential process until it had properly played out,” she said.

Husar said she has commenced Federal Court defamation proceedings against Buzzfeed and Workman.

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

“I am 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 the women who come after me. I’m going to do my bit to make sure this never happens again.”

In a statement BuzzFeed said: “We’re aware that proceedings have been issued. We’re considering our position with our lawyers and will respond in due course.”