NSW La­bor leader re­signs

Politi­cian who looked set to be­come pre­mier fac­ing mis­con­duct claims

The New Zealand Herald - - World - — news.com.au

New South Wales La­bor leader Luke Fo­ley has re­signed four months out from an elec­tion he was in a po­si­tion to win after a jour­nal­ist ac­cused him of mis­con­duct.

Ash­leigh Raper, the ABC’s for­mer state po­lit­i­cal re­porter, claims Fo­ley put his hand in her un­der­pants after a par­lia­men­tary Christ­mas party in Novem­ber 2016.

Raper, who asked to be re­moved from the pol­i­tics round at the start of the year, claims Fo­ley has phoned her twice in the past week to apol­o­gise and of­fer an ex­pla­na­tion.

She said Fo­ley told her in those calls that he planned to quit his po­si­tion this week, be­fore back­track­ing a few days later to in­sist he would stay on.

La­bor fig­ures said yes­ter­day that Fo­ley’s po­si­tion was un­ten­able and pres­sure mounted for him to re­sign. He re­fused to take ques­tions.

Raper said Fo­ley “put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and in­side my un­der­pants” and “rested his hand on my but­tocks” at the end of a night that started with a Christ­mas party at Par­lia­ment House two years ago, which was at­tended by mem­bers of the press gallery as well as politi­cians and their staffers.

The state­ment has rocked state pol­i­tics and a se­nior La­bor source told news.com.au af­ter­wards that “every­one wants him to go”.

Raper said the al­leged in­ci­dent was wit­nessed by Sean Ni­cholls, who was the Syd­ney Morn­ing Herald’s state po­lit­i­cal edi­tor at the time, and works at the ABC as a re­porter for Four Cor­ners.

Raper said she de­cided not to lodge a com­plaint in the wake of the al­leged in­ci­dent for a num­ber of rea­sons, pri­mar­ily to avoid me­dia at­ten­tion. But in April, she was con­tacted by a jour­nal­ist ask­ing about the al­le­ga­tion, prompt­ing her to in­form ABC man­age­ment.

Last month, Lib­eral MP David El­liott raised the mat­ter in Par­lia­ment. While he did not name Raper, spec­u­la­tion grew.

“The mat­ter then be­came a state and fed­eral po­lit­i­cal is­sue and re­sulted in in­tense me­dia at­ten­tion,” Raper said.

“This oc­curred with­out my in­volve­ment or con­sent.”

A ReachTel poll in Septem­ber had La­bor and the rul­ing con­ser­va­tive coali­tion run­ning neck-and-neck ahead of the state elec­tion, set for March 23.

Luke Fo­ley

Ash­leigh Raper

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