BREAKING: Luke Foley resigns as Labor leader
An ABC journalist says NSW Labor leader Luke Foley put his hands down her underpants during a parliamentary staff Christmas party nearly two years ago.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Ashleigh Raper said she wanted to "set the record straight" about an incident involving Mr Foley at the NSW Parliament Christmas party in Sydney's CBD in 2016.
Ms Raper said Mr Foley called her on Sunday to apologise, telling her: "I'm not a philanderer, I'm not a groper, I'm just a drunk idiot".
He told her he would resign as leader of the NSW Labor Party either on Monday or Wednesday.
However, he called back on Tuesday to backtrack, saying he won't be resigning based on legal advice.
In her statement she said the incident that had been the source of widespread speculation involved Mr Foley putting his hand down the back of her dress at a bar in Martin Place following the function involving politicians, their staff and journalists at Parliament House.
"He stood next to me. He put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside my underpants. He rested his hand on my buttocks. I completely froze," she said.
ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper
She said the incident was witnessed by another journalist, but she did not make a complaint for a number of reasons - including for fear of losing her job and the negative impact it would have on her family.
But the matter resurfaced in October when Liberal minister David Elliott raised it in NSW parliament.
BREAKING: LUKE FOLEY RESIGNS AS LABOR LEADER
In a brief statement to media, Mr Foley insisted the allegations were “false” and he intended to begin defamation proceedings against the ABC
“The first thing I’d like to say is that the allegations 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,” Mr Foley said.
“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.”
Mr Foley will now move to the backbench and said he intends to remain as the member for Auburn.
(Statement originally published by News.com.au)