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Peter Dutton left red-faced after texting mishap

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has been left red-faced after he referred to a journalist as a "mad f---ing witch", then accidentally sent the text message to the journalist herself.

On Sunday night, the minister confirmed he apologised to the journalist after he sent the message, reportedly intended for his embattled colleague Jamie Briggs, who stepped down after acting inappropriately towards a colleague while on an overseas trip.

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Dutton's texting fail

Immigration minister Peter Dutton apologises after he refers to journalist Samantha Maiden as a "mad f---ing witch". (Vision: Today Show, Channel Nine)

In a newspaper column, journalist Samantha Maiden branded Mr Briggs' behaviour while travelling "dumb as all get out".

Maiden criticised the former minister's alcohol intake, and his decision to circulate a photo of the woman who made a confidential complaint about his actions at a Hong Kong bar.

Mr Dutton responded to the column on Sunday morning by reportedly texting Mr Briggs to call its author a "mad f---ing witch". Instead, it was sent straight to Maiden's text message inbox.


Maiden referred to the incident on breakfast television on Sunday morning while talking about Mr Briggs, although she didn't then name the minister involved.

"They certainly do believe they're hard done by, including by me," Maiden told the Today show, referring to ministers close to Mr Briggs.

"I had a Liberal MP accidentally text me this morning, clearly not meant for me, describing me as a bit of a mad witch for writing this story, which I thought was spectacular.

"He apologised and said he'd sent the text to the wrong person.

"So I think some of these MPs, they're having a bit of a problem with their phones. They might just want to put them down."

However, The Herald Sun reported that Maiden was "not offended" by the "mobile phone malfunction".

In a statement sent to Fairfax Media on Sunday evening, Mr Dutton said he "had a laugh" with Maiden about what happened.

"Sam and I have exchanged some robust language over the years so we had a laugh after this and I apologised to her straight away which she took in good faith," Mr Dutton said.

"I'm expecting a tough time in her next column!"

The Australian reported Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had privately described the message as "completely inappropriate".

It's not the first time Mr Dutton has had a problem with technology.

In September, a "light-hearted" comment about rising sea levels was broadcast to an audience wider than intended after he delivered it while standing under a boom microphone.

Twitter was this morning awash with commentary on the latest gaffe.