NSW Leader of the Opposition Luke Foley (pictured) has resigned thanks to a series of developments in the accusations towards him surrounding his 2016 sexual assault of ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper.
The accusations were originally levelled at Foley by Corrections Minister David Elliott in parliament in October under parliamentary privilege, a claim which Foley immediately denied and labelled a “smear”.
The matter was then brought up again during the ABC Senate estimates hearing when Liberal senator Eric Abetz asked ABC acting managing director David Anderson about the allegations.
The move led to the ABC launching an internal investigation into the matter.
All the while, the victim at the centre of the scandal, ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper has refused to comment on the matter, however, yesterday Raper released a statement.
Published on the ABC, Raper describes the sexual assault which took place in Martin Place Bar in 2016 following the Parliamentary Christmas party.
B&T has chosen not to publish the details of the sexual assault; however, those wishing to read it can do so here.
According to Raper, the reason she made the decision to publish her own statement was due to a phone call with Foley which took place on Sunday 4 November.
Raper alledges Foley called her to apologise for the incident, and upon Raper’s wishes, vowed to step down as NSW Leader of the Opposition on either Monday 5 November or Wednesday 7 November.
Despite the initial promise, Foley then made a second call to Raper claiming he would not be stepping down, having received legal advice that he should not vacate his position.
As per Raper’s statement: Last Sunday (4 November) Luke Foley called me on my mobile phone and we had a conversation that lasted 19 minutes.
He said he was sorry and that he was full of remorse for his behaviour towards me at the Press Gallery Christmas function in November 2016.
He told me that he had wanted to talk to me about that night on many occasions over the past two years because, while he was drunk and couldn’t remember all the details of the night, he knew he did something to offend me.
He apologised again and told me, ‘I’m not a philanderer, I’m not a groper, I’m just a drunk idiot’.
He said he would be resigning as the leader of the New South Wales Labor Party on either the next day (Monday, 5 November) or Wednesday (7 November).
He said he couldn’t resign on the Tuesday because it was Melbourne Cup Day and he didn’t want to be accused of burying the story.
On Tuesday (6 November) Mr Foley called me again.
He repeated his apology and told me he owed me ‘a lot of contrition’.
He informed me he’d received legal advice not to resign as Opposition Leader.
He indicated he intended to follow that advice.
Following Raper’s statement, more developments have come to light, with journalist and media personality Ben Fordham claiming he advised Foley to contact Raper a fortnight ago.
Fordham admitted: “I spoke to Luke Foley off-air and encouraged him to call Ashleigh Raper to establish if his recollection matched hers.
“It turns out he took me up on that suggestion and called Ashleigh Raper on Sunday.”
As well as Fordham’s admission, the ABC has published its own statement addressing the unfolding situation, with the public broadcaster claiming it’ “first priority is and always has been the welfare of our employee, journalist Ashleigh Raper.”
It added: “ABC management first became aware of the matter following media enquiries in April this year. At this time ABC management spoke with Raper, who made it clear she did not wish to make a formal complaint or take any action and wished the matter to remain confidential. The ABC respected her wishes but took all steps to ensure Raper received complete management support.
“In February 2018, Raper asked to be reassigned from State Parliament to general reporting shifts for reasons unrelated to the incident and before media enquiries were received.
“There has been no change to the work assignments given to Raper. There is absolutely no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Raper and her career should not be affected in any way.
“The ABC considers it extremely unfortunate that media and public pressure has been applied to Raper during these past months and caused her to speak publicly on an issue she did not wish to pursue or to comment on.”
The public, as well as members of parliament, had been rallying for Foley’s resignation, with those close to the matter reporting Labor MP Michael Daley has the backing to take over as Opposition leader.
— Catalina Florez (@florezcata) November 8, 2018
More to come.