Politics

Luke Foley Resigns As NSW Opposition Leader After Sexual Harassment Allegations

He denied the allegations, and threatened to sue for defamation.

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley has resigned from his position just hours after an ABC journalist released a statement alleging he sexually harassed her at a Christmas party in 2016. He resigned despite continuing to deny the allegations, saying he intends to sue for defamation.

ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper released a statement detailing the alleged harassment earlier today, writing that in 2016, Foley “put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside my underpants”. She also alleged that Foley recently called her to apologise and let her know he would be resigning the Labor leadership this week, only to call again on Tuesday to say he would not in fact be resigning due to legal advice he had received.

In her statement, Raper made clear that she would have preferred not to share her story in public and had not intended to make a complaint, but felt she needed to speak up after Liberal MP David Elliott mentioned the allegations in Parliament last month without her involvement or consent.

At a press conference this afternoon, Foley denied that he sexually harassed Raper, and threatened to sue for defamation.

“The allegations made against me today, made public by the ABC, are false. I’ve retained solicitors and senior counsel to advise on the immediate commencement of defamation proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia.”

“However, I can’t fight to clear my name and fight an election at the same time. It’s just not possible to do both. Therefore, I’m resigning the leadership of the Labor Party effective today.”

“This will enable a new leader to give his or her full attention to the task of defeating the Liberal National government. I’ll be remaining as the member for Auburn, and returning to the backbench.” He left without answering journalists’ questions about whether he did indeed call Raper and promise to resign.

Foley has previously denied the allegations made against him, after they were raised in Parliament by Liberal MP David Elliott. His resignation comes after Labor MP Trish Doyle threatened to call a leadership spill if Foley failed to quit by the end of the day.

Foley will likely be replaced as NSW Labor leader by current deputy leader Michael Daley, though no formal announcements have been made.