Fo­ley rev­e­la­tions had gen­e­sis in journo’s ex­changes with MP

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - AN­DREW CLENNELL

The al­le­ga­tion Luke Fo­ley had groped ABC jour­nal­ist Ash­leigh Raper be­came known to Lib­eral MPs and The Aus­tralian be­cause of two con­ver­sa­tions ABC and for­mer Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald jour­nal­ist Sean Ni­cholls — a wit­ness to the al­leged as­sault — had with a NSW Lib­eral politi­cian.

The Aus­tralian was in­formed ear­lier this year about the con­ver­sa­tions and told that what was al­leged by Ni­cholls to the politi­cian was that Mr Fo­ley had been in­volved in an ac­tion “tan­ta­mount to a sex­ual as­sault” in­volv­ing a jour­nal­ist.

The Aus­tralian re­ported yes­ter­day that in­for­ma­tion Mr Fo­ley had been in­volved in an in­ci­dent with a fe­male jour­nal­ist be­gan to hit Mac­quarie Street af­ter Ni­cholls in­formed the politi­cian that an in­ci­dent had oc­curred.

At the time, Ni­cholls would not name the jour­nal­ist to the politi­cian but ques­tioned Mr Fo­ley’s be­hav­iour.

The Aus­tralian ac­cepts Ni­cholls did not in­tend for that al­le­ga­tion to be made pub­lic and did not name Raper, other than re­fer­ring to her as an ABC jour­nal­ist.

Af­ter The Aus­tralian’s re­port yes­ter­day, Ni­cholls con­tacted the politi­cian to dis­cuss the con­ver­sa­tions be­fore the ABC is­sued a state­ment on Ni­cholls’s be­half.

In the state­ment, Ni­cholls de­nied he had been re­spon­si­ble for leak­ing in­for­ma­tion on the mat­ter, say­ing he had never given in­for­ma­tion to a politi­cian about an al­le­ga­tion in­volv­ing an “ABC jour­nal­ist” and Mr Fo­ley.

The state­ment also said Ni­cholls had re­frained from dis­cussing any “de­tails” of what he had wit­nessed for two years.

Ni­cholls’s boss, ABC di­rec­tor of news Gaven Mor­ris, told The Week­end Aus­tralian yes­ter­day: “Sean Ni­cholls has at no time had any con­ver­sa­tions with a Lib­eral MP about the de­tails of the Ash­leigh Raper al­le­ga­tions.”

He said of the con­ver­sa­tions Ni­cholls had with the MP con­cern­ing Mr Fo­ley: “I don’t know if he had one con­ver­sa­tion or 10. I don’t know who he spoke to. What I’m as­sured of in terms of Sean Ni­cholls’s in­volve­ment is he’s at no point passed on any de­tail or dis­cussed the al­le­ga­tion.”

Ni­cholls also de­scribed the re­port in The Aus­tralian as “wrong and an out­ra­geous slur on my in­tegrity”.

When pressed on the con­ver­sa­tions with the Lib­eral politi­cian, Ni­cholls re­peated in a text mes­sage yes­ter­day: “I have never given any in­for­ma­tion to a Lib­eral politi­cian — or any politi­cian — about an al­le­ga­tion in­volv­ing an ABC jour­nal­ist and Luke Fo­ley.

“As Ash­leigh Raper’s pow­er­ful and brave state­ment on Thurs­day said, I have re­frained from dis­cussing any de­tails of what I wit­nessed for al­most two years, hon­our­ing her re­quest.”

In Raper’s state­ment that led to Mr Fo­ley’s demise, she con­firmed the only wit­ness to the ha­rass­ment at­tack on her was Ni­cholls.

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