Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrongly claimed an investigation was under way into a sexual harassment complaint at News Corp, the media company has said.
News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller on Tuesday afternoon denied it had received a complaint that an employee had harassed a woman in a female toilet, and that the company's human resources team had started investigating.
Mr Morrison made the claim in an exchange with a Sky News journalist at a press conference on Tuesday, as the Prime Minister faced questions over his government's handling of allegations that ministerial staffer Brittany Higgins had been raped inside Parliament House.
"Let's not all of us who sit in glass houses here start getting into that," Mr Morrison said at the press conference.
Mr Miller later said News Corp's HR team in recent weeks had learned of a verbal exchange between two employees in Parliament House last year about a workplace-related issue.
It was not of a sexual nature, did not take place in a toilet and neither person made a complaint. The HR team had written to one of the people and the matter was resolved, Mr Miller said.
It was "simply untrue" that there had been an episode of harassment in a toilet that was under current investigation at News Corp, he said.
Mr Miller described Mr Morrison's claims as extraordinary and said they undermined the principle that people must be able to raise issues confidentially.
ACT-based Labor senator Katy Gallagher earlier on Tuesday said the Prime Minister had weaponised his claims of an investigation within the very same press conference he had encouraged women to come forward with complaints.
"He chucks out a complaint, details of it, names the employer in a building like this, weaponises it as a defensive strategy to make up for his own failings. That's what just happened out there," she said.
"It's just unbelievable, and no wonder women are so angry because you say one thing and then the Prime Minister goes out and retaliates like that when he's questioned.
"It's not just about this building, it's about out there and the message is sent, which is why what the Prime Minister did this morning, frankly, is so damaging.
"Because you say you want women to come forward and be supported. And then that gets dumped out."
Criticised in Parliament's question time for his comments, Mr Morrison said he had been arguing that sexual misconduct also occurred in workplaces outside Parliament House.
Mr Morrison's press conference on Tuesday followed an explosive Ten News report that revealed a government staffer had filmed himself performing a "solo sex act" on the desk of a female MP before sharing it in a group chat.
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