Foley revelations had genesis in journo’s exchanges with MP
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.