NSW Labor leader resigns
Politician who looked set to become premier facing misconduct claims
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.