Politics

Barnaby Joyce Denies New Claims Of Inappropriate Behaviour

Barnaby's bad week continues.

Embattled Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has denied claims he drunkenly pinched a woman’s bottom at a Canberra bar in 2011, after the allegation was levelled against him in News Corp newspapers overnight.

The incident is purported to have taken place following the 2011 Rural Women’s Agricultural Awards, after the alleged victim confronted Joyce about his interaction with another woman.

“I went over to the bar and he was very, very drunk and nearly falling over,” the alleged victim told News Corp. “I said ‘Barnaby, I think you should go home. You’re very drunk.’ He leant over and he pinched my bottom.”

The Prime Minister’s office was made aware of the alleged incident in 2015 after it was relayed to Malcolm Turnbull’s principal private secretary Sally Cray by John Clements, former chief adviser to Joyce’s political rival Tony Windsor.

In text messages between Clements and Cray seen by both News Corp and Fairfax Media, Clements claims Joyce was in “full flight” and “worse than drunk at a nightclub”. He told Cray that the messages were off the record, but that the incident had “too many witnesses to go away”.

Cray, for her part, described Joyce’s behaviour as “unacceptable”, but said it was “hard if there was not an official complaint at the time to act.”

Joyce became Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister two months later.

Joyce denied the harassment accusation on Tuesday, claiming that it “did not happen” and that the story was being “peddled by the bitterest of political enemies”. He also said he was reserving “all my legal rights as to what action I should pursue” in relation to the publication of the story.

Joyce has been in the news since it was revealed last week that his former staffer Vikki Campion is pregnant with his child. He is facing questions over Campion’s appointment to two roles in the offices of government colleagues, allegedly while the affair was ongoing.

This morning, The West reported that Joyce used his $10,000 “family reunion” allowance while Campion was pregnant. It has also been revealed that since his marriage broke down, Joyce has been living rent free in a home owned by a friend and political donor.

“I am very aware of the Ministerial Code of Conduct,” Joyce said in his statement on Tuesday. “It is without a shadow of a doubt that Vikki Campion is my partner now. But when she worked in my office, she was not my partner. When she worked in Matt Canavan’s office, she was not my partner. And Damian Drum was not a minister.”

Joyce also used the statement to apologise to his wife and four daughters “for all the hurt this has caused”, as well as to Campion “that she has been dragged into this”.