De­fi­ant Fo­ley gone amid in­de­cency claims

The Dominion Post - - World -

Fed­eral MPs on both sides of pol­i­tics have ques­tioned for­mer NSW La­bor leader Luke Fo­ley’s plan to sue over claims he groped an ABC jour­nal­ist two years ago.

Fo­ley re­signed on Thurs­day af­ter re­porter Ash­leigh Raper went pub­lic with al­le­ga­tions he put his hand in­side her un­der­wear at a 2016 par­lia­men­tary Christ­mas af­ter­party in Syd­ney’s CBD.

Raper gave her ver­sion ac­count of the al­leged drunken be­hav­iour af­ter Lib­eral MP David El­liott gave rise to the is­sue in Oc­to­ber un­der par­lia­men­tary priv­i­lege. ‘‘He stood next to me. He put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and in­side my un­der­pants. He rested his hand on my but­tocks. I com­pletely froze,’’ she al­leged.

Fo­ley ve­he­mently de­nies the al­le­ga­tions and says he plans to launch defama­tion pro­ceed­ings in the Fed­eral Court.

Fed­eral La­bor front­bencher Ed Hu­sic said he was shocked and ap­palled by the al­le­ga­tions and that the for­mer state op­po­si­tion leader had no choice but to re­sign.

But it would also be ‘‘very tricky’’ for him to re­main in par­lia­ment on the back­bench while fight­ing the mat­ter in court.

‘‘He is go­ing to have to make a choice on that, but I think it will be very tough for him look­ing at what has tran­spired and the like­li­hood of a le­gal case,’’ Hu­sic told Nine Net­work yes­ter­day. ‘‘Frankly, I don’t think the per­son at the heart of it – Ash­leigh – should have to go through (a pro­tracted le­gal case).’’

Fed­eral cabi­net min­is­ter Christo­pher Pyne said it was a bad sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘It is un­for­tu­nate Luke Fo­ley is su­ing the ABC for defama­tion. He must think he has a case and good luck to him, but that is just go­ing to keep ex­tend­ing it,’’ he said.

Pyne re­fused to call on El­liott to apol­o­gise for rais­ing the mat­ter in par­lia­ment, say­ing the Cor­rec­tions min­is­ter has to an­swer for his own de­ci­sions. El­liott has re­mained silent since Raper’s state­ment was re­leased.

NSW de­tec­tives have con­tacted ABC man­age­ment say­ing they stood ready to in­ves­ti­gate should Raper make a for­mal com­plaint.

La­bor MPs fear Fo­ley’s messy res­ig­na­tion could en­dan­ger the party’s chance of vic­tory in the March 2019 NSW elec­tion.

His likely suc­ces­sor, deputy La­bor leader Michael Da­ley, will have four months to re­pair the dam­age and chal­lenge the Bere­jik­lian gov­ern­ment.

The NSW La­bor cau­cus will meet to­day to elect a new leader. – AAP

‘‘Frankly, I don’t think the per­son at the heart of it – Ash­leigh – should have to go through (a pro­tracted le­gal case).’’ Ed Hu­sic, Fed­eral La­bor front­bencher

FAIRFAX

For­mer NSW La­bor leader Luke Fo­ley plans to sue the ABC over claims he groped ABC jour­nal­ist Ash­leigh Raper, in­set.

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