Luke Foley Won't Recontest Next State Election After Groping Allegations
Former Labor leader Luke Foley will not be recontesting his seat at the next state election amid allegations he groped a journalist at a parliamentary party.
Foley wrote to the ALP General Secretary on Friday evening, seeking permission to run out his term before resigning as NSW Labor's candidate for Auburn.
Foley said he'd had time to reflect and talk to friends and colleagues and "did not want to be a distraction".
"I will continue to work for the people of my electorate as Member for Auburn until the election," his letter reads.
The ALP released a statement shortly after confirming the party had accepted his resignation.
It comes after the party considered moves to disendorse him by referring him to the candidate review panel, while NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said she is "incredibly disappointed" by her minister David Elliott's move to expose sexual harassment claims against him without the alleged victim's consent.
Reporter Ashleigh Raper broke her silence on Thursday, two years after Foley allegedly groped her while drunk at a Christmas party in 2016.
Foley resigned as party leader hours after the ABC issued a statement but said the allegations were false and indicated he would launch defamation proceedings.
The latest developments come as the man tipped to be NSW Labor's new leader came out in support of Raper, while expressing unhappiness with the way his former boss resigned over the allegations.
Current deputy Michael Daley on Friday said he was "very unhappy" with his former leader's resignation press conference and threw his support behind Raper.
"We're all thinking of Ashleigh," he told reporters outside his home.
NSW Minister for Corrections, David Elliott, has faced mounting criticism for using parliamentary privilege in October to air allegations without Raper's consent.
Raper attacked Elliott on Thursday, saying she had finally come forward in-part because she wanted to stop situations like hers being politicised.
Raper said she never wanted to "comment or complain" but Mr Elliott's comments put the incident in the public domain.
How the scandal unfolded
- October 18, 2018: Accused of having "a little bit too much to drink at a party and harassed an ABC journalist" by NSW Corrections Minister David Elliott under parliamentary privilege. Foley denied the allegations, labelling them a smear.
- October 23: ABC acting managing director David Anderson tells a federal Senate estimates hearing he's asked for a full brief on the matter.
- October 24: Roads Minister Melinda Pavey calls on Foley to step aside while the ABC investigates in parliament. Foley threatens to reveal alleged misbehaviour of other state MPs, singling out four Liberal MPs.
- November 8: ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper releases statement detailing allegations Foley put his hand down her underpants at a Christmas function in 2016.
"The matter then became a state and federal political issue and resulted in intense media attention," she said.
"This occurred without my involvement or consent."
Elliott responded on Friday with a three-sentence statement.
"This has clearly been a difficult time for the journalist," he said.
"I have long held concerns over the character of the alternate Premier.
"To that end, it was never my intent to cause distress for the journalist."
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was disappointed control of the story was taken out of the hands of the journalist by Elliott.
"But, obviously, obviously there had been rumours about these issues for a long time. And all of us had respected that they were rumours. That's a fact," she said.
In response to a question on whether she endorsed Elliott's statement, she replied: "Absolutely not. They were not premeditated."
"That's a matter for him. But I've expressed my disappointment. But I also don't want to take away from the fact that she has -- she, the journalist, has been dealing with this for nearly two years," Berejiklian said.
"And I feel -- and I feel incredibly disappointed that she had the control of this issue, in the way she wanted to deal with it, taken away from her."
Federal MPs on both sides of politics have questioned Foley's plan to sue over the allegations.
Federal Labor frontbencher Ed Husic said it would 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 the Nine Network on Friday.
"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.
He refused to call on Elliott to apologise for raising the matter in parliament, saying the Corrections minister has to answer for his own decisions.
Greens MP Jenny Leong said she was "disgusted and appalled" by the allegations, as well as those who have used it to score political points.
NSW detectives contacted ABC management saying they stood ready to investigate should Raper make a formal complaint.