Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan. Picture: supplied
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan. Picture: supplied

Costigan harassment complaint withdrawn, apology given

THE woman behind the Liberal National Party's expulsion of Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan has withdrawn her complaint and apologised after being sued for defamation.

Mr Costigan sued Victorian woman Heather McKeown in the Brisbane District Court on January 23 for $350,000, claiming her complaint to the LNP last year and seven posts she allegedly made on Facebook left him embarrassed and distressed.

He said the alleged posts also caused him to be "denied" lucrative professional appointments and reduced his chances for re-election.

The apology, signed by Ms McKeown, stated she made a number of posts to social media sites about Mr Costigan in January 2019.

"I now accept that the posts I made were entirely unjustified," it said.

"I regret making them, and I regret the hurt that they must have caused to Mr Costigan and his family."

In an email addressed to LNP leader Deb Frecklington on March 13, 2020, obtained by the Daily Mercury, Ms McKeown said she wished to withdraw the complaint she made to the LNP in relation to Mr Costigan in January 2019.

Queensland Opposition leader Deb Frecklington.
Queensland Opposition leader Deb Frecklington.

Mr Costigan said coronavirus and "administrative matters regarding the resolution of the court proceeding" had prevented the withdrawal from coming to light sooner.

He said the "drama" surrounding him began in January 2019 after he stayed overnight, by invitation, at Ms McKeown's elderly parents' rural Victorian property.

He alleged that Ms McKeown's complaint to the LNP last year included the allegation that her daughter "feared she would be raped" after Mr Costigan followed her into her bedroom and closed the door behind her.

The complaint allegedly stated that Mr Costigan told the teenager he "liked young girls" and he touched her on her back and picked up her underwear from the floor "turned it over in his hands and told her that he liked it".

By February 2019, Mr Costigan had been expelled by the LNP amid allegations of sexual harassment.

The controversial MP described the apology and withdrawal of the complaint as a "massive victory" for him and his team.

"The truth has finally come out and not before time," Mr Costigan said.

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan.
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan.

"This whole thing has taken a huge toll on not just me but my family, including my kids and those close to me. It's been dreadful."

He said the defamation lawsuit against Ms McKeown was about "restoring my reputation after all that bulls**t".

"We could have sued Ms McKeown, someone I've never even met, for whatever but it was never about the money," Mr Costigan said.

The independent MP has since gone on to become leader of his own political party, NQ First.

The party will be going after seats from Calliope to the Cape at the October state election.

Ms McKeown's legal team and the LNP were contacted for comment.



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