Emma Husar launches legal action against BuzzFeed, journalist Alice Workman over harassment claims

Emma Husar is suing media outlet BuzzFeed and a female journalist over articles that detailed bullying and sexual harassment allegations against her.

The Labor backbencher held back tears as she told federal parliament on Thursday she had launched a defamation lawsuit against the publication and journalist Alice Workman.

Ms Husar, who holds the marginal western Sydney seat of Lindsay, said she was “slut shamed” by the BuzzFeed articles from August, which reported a series of bullying allegations from her former office staff members.

The pieces also reported an allegation she exposed herself in the company of Labor frontbencher Jason Clare. Both Ms Husar and Mr Clare refuted the allegation. She told Nine at the time that the allegations made her physically ill.

Ms Husar claims Workman had only approached her for a response one minute after the “most damaging article” was published, emailing her 48 questions and requesting comment for the story that was already live.

“They went ahead and published their slut-shaming story knowing with full intent that it would go viral,” she told parliament.

“They didn’t give me any notice in advance. They didn’t give me the opportunity to seek release from my confidentiality obligations so that I could respond.”

Ms Husar said BuzzFeed claimed she had “bragged” about her sexual relations, sexually harassed an employee and exposed herself to a colleague and his infant son.

“She (Workman) further tweeted that I had bragged about who I was having sex with, that I had 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.”

Referencing the actor widely associated with a sexually graphic film scene, Ms Husar added: “I am not a bully. I am not Sharon Stone. I am not a thief. And I did not deliberately misuse my work expenses.”

The investigation found Ms Husar had mistreated her electorate staff, but it did not find evidence to support the flashing claims or allegations of sexual harassment.

A BuzzFeed spokeswoman told The Australian it was considering its position after Ms Husar’s statement and would “respond in due course”.

The case will first be mentioned in court on December 21.

The embattled Labor MP announced in August she would not contest the next election, as she faced an internal investigation into staff bullying allegations.

However, Ms Husar has since changed her mind and has rejected suggestions she is no longer the Labor candidate for next year’s federal poll.

NSW Labor officials will meet on Friday to settle on a preselection process to replace Ms Husar.

Ms Husar has deliberately missed votes in parliament and Labor caucus meetings in recent weeks as she pushes back against the party, AAP reports. She also indicated earlier this week that she could defect to the crossbench before the budget.

Fellow federal Labor MPs are leaving the situation to be sorted out by the NSW branch of the party.

“I think Emma is a good person who’s been through a difficult time,” Labor MP Jim Chalmers told reporters on Thursday.

Labor MP Patrick Gorman also backed Ms Husar as a “good person”, but would not comment on the process.

“Most of us don’t get to choose when we leave this place and none of us get to choose when our careers come to an end,” he told reporters on Thursday.

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