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Luke Foley's Defamation Threat An 'Attack' On ABC Journalist, Says His Replacement

Luke Foley's replacement as NSW Labor leader has slammed his predecessor, calling his extraordinary press conference about allegations involving an ABC journalist "a continuation of the attack".

In resigning from the NSW ALP leadership on Thursday, Foley described allegations from journalist Ashleigh Raper that he groped her at a Christmas party in 2016 as "false", and said he would be launching defamation proceedings.

Michael Daley, who was voted in as NSW Labor party leader on Saturday, said he was "deeply unhappy" with Foley's statement.

READ MORE: Luke Foley Quits But Denies Groping Allegations

"I thought, without being prejudiced to Luke, because I have been hard on him, I felt that was a continuation of the attack on Ashleigh," he told ABC's Insiders on Sunday morning.

"I considered what he had to say very carefully. I considered her statement very carefully and all the circumstances that surrounded both of those versions of events.

"There was only one version of the truth and I thought the most useful and best demonstration of the leadership position I held at the time was to come out and tell the truth. I said, very simply, 'I believe Ashleigh'. I maintain that was the right thing to do."

READ MORE: Analysis: Why Luke Foley's Defamation Case May Never Wind Up In Court

NSW Liberal MP David Elliott -- who said he was "deeply sorry" about first airing the allegations under parliamentary privilege -- did not escape unscathed, either, with Daley describing him as "a craven character".

"He shouldn't have said it in the first place and Gladys Berejiklian needs to answer how it found its way onto the floor of parliament?" Daley said.

"Either she and her office knew and agreed to that parliamentary tactic or she didn't know and she can't control her ministers. Both are unacceptable."

READ MORE: ABC Journalist Ashleigh Raper Goes Public With Luke Foley Allegations

Daley issued a challenge to the NSW government, promising that his team won't be "throwing mud" and that if they were to do the same, it would be a "comprehensive failure of leadership" on the part of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“We have an opportunity now to reset the political discourse in New South Wales. I’m hoping we get there,” he said.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Photo: ABC