Rachelle Miller payment: Tudge mentioned in legal letter, PM’s claim wrong

After repeatedly denying any knowledge of the negotiations of a secret $500,000 settlement, a document saw Scott Morrison’s claims undone.

Education Minister Alan Tudge is named several times in legal correspondence between lawyers for his former press secretary Rachelle Miller and the Department of Finance regarding a secret $500,000 settlement.

Despite the Prime Minister’s claim that he ‘would have been informed’ if the negotiations involved a Cabinet minister, news.com.au has confirmed the names of correspondence not only of Mr Tudge but also of another former employer , Attorney General Michaelia Cash and former Liberal staffers.

Both ministers categorically denied intimidating Ms Miller during her employment.

In a 22-page letter outlining the claim, Ms. Miller’s employment with Mr. Tudge is discussed in detail over four pages and her employment in Senator Cash’s office is also discussed at length.

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Mr Tudge has previously confirmed he had an intimate relationship with Ms Miller which did not involve sex.

However, the relationship involved the employer and employee spending time together naked in bed.

The Department of Finance has made no official finding of wrongdoing against any individual, nor has it conducted any prior workplace investigation into the matter.

For the first time, the Prime Minister confirmed during an election debate on Channel 7 on Wednesday evening that the issue was still under negotiation. He previously claimed the payment was a “private matter”.

“First of all, I’m advised that this case hasn’t even been settled,” Mr Morrison said.

“That’s because these issues relate to very private interactions between people and are handled with sensitivity. We have conducted an independent investigation of Alan Tudge.

Channel 7’s Mark Riley then asked Mr Morrison if he really needed an independent inquiry into whether it was right or wrong for a minister to have a sexual relationship with a member of staff.

“Of course, people who have connections in the office, that’s something I never approved of,” the prime minister said.

In an interview with Sky News this week, Mr Tudge confirmed that he was unaware of the new negotiations with the Department of Finance and that he had never been questioned or asked to give evidence in relation to the request for ‘compensation.

“As the Prime Minister said, he’s not aware, I’m not aware, that’s a matter for the Department of Finance,” Mr Tudge said.

“I’m not aware of any of these things. I have no information. I was not called as a witness. I was not asked to provide any evidence. And as the Prime Minister said, if it involved me, he would have been made aware and was not made aware.

Despite the Prime Minister’s allegation, Mr. Tudge is not involved, and Mr. Tudge’s belief on this basis that the allegation does not implicate him, the correspondence between the parties names him.

On April 11, the Prime Minister insisted that the negotiations involving Ms Miller and the Department of Finance were “private”.

‘This is a private matter involving a sensitive matter, I suspect, between Ms Miller and the Treasury,’ Mr Morrison said.

‘And no one can speculate on the findings, as none have been presented to me that suggest any impropriety on the part of Mr Tudge. So it’s just speculation. And cannot be confirmed.

Then, on Sunday April 17, the Prime Minister asserted for the first time that if the complaint concerned the conduct of a minister, he would have been informed.

“Well, I’m glad you brought that up because if there was a question in the Finance Department’s assessment that implicated the conduct of any minister in granting this payment , then this matter should be raised with me by the Ministry of Finance through the Secretary to the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,” he said.

“Now, I can absolutely assure you that no such reference was made to me. So implying that would be wrong, implying that would be absolutely wrong, and you would have no reason to.

No workplace investigation into Ms. Miller’s allegations has ever found wrongdoing against Mr. Tudge, Senator Cash or any other Liberal MP or staffer.

In fact, two previous inquiries commissioned by the Morrison government into allegations that Ms Miller was bullied during her tenure as a Liberal staffer found no wrongdoing against anyone.

Ms. Miller declined to participate in the legal advice investigations.

The first investigation conducted by Spark Helmore was completed a year ago.

As news.com.au revealed at the time, it looked into Ms Miller’s complaint about her employment in Mr Tudge’s office and Senator Cash’s office, but was unable to substantiate the allegations after the complainant refused to participate in legal advice.

A second investigation commissioned by the Prime Minister and led by Vivienne Thom focused more narrowly on her relationship with Mr Tudge and claims he kicked her out of bed in Kalgoorlie, WA.

Ms Miller again declined to participate in legal advice and the investigation did not result in any findings against Mr Tudge.

This investigation was made public by the Prime Minister and he later claimed that Mr Tudge had been “cleared” of the allegations.

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