Deputy leader Michael Daley and Labor’s highest-ranking female MP Jodi McKay today threw their support behind ABC reporter Ashleigh Raper, who alleges Foley put his hand down her underwear at a party in 2016.
Daley said Raper “did the right thing” in coming forward, even though Foley had repeatedly and strongly denied the claims.
“She’s a credible person and I believe her,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“Ashleigh Raper did not deserve to be treated that way.”
Foley resigned on Thursday night but wants to stay on the backbench while he pursues defamation proceedings in the Federal Court.
However, Daley, widely tipped to take over the leadership at a caucus meeting on Saturday, believes nothing good will come of it.
“It will be damaging for everyone, particularly for Ashleigh Raper,” he said.
“I think Luke should carefully reconsider whether he wants to take those legal proceedings or not.”
McKay was also surprised about his plan to sue.
“Do I think that is the right decision? No,” she told reporters on the Central Coast.
“This just prolongs what Ashleigh has gone through and what she is going through and I think there needs to be a whole lot of serious consideration by Luke.”
Their sentiments were echoed by federal Labor frontbencher Ed Husic and Liberal cabinet minister Christopher Pyne.
“Frankly, I don’t think the person at the heart of it – Ashleigh – should have to go through (a protracted legal case),” Husic told the Nine Network.
Raper issued a statement on Thursday detailing her version of the alleged drunken behaviour at a Sydney bar following a parliamentary Christmas party in 2016.
She alleged he “put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside my underpants” and “rested his hand on my buttocks.”
Raper said she did not raise the allegations previously because she feared the impact on her career and her personal life.
However, the matter became the subject of public scruitny after Liberal MP David Elliott raised the allegations under parliamentary privilege in October.
Elliott released a short statement on Friday following heavy criticism of his role in the scandal.
“This has clearly been a difficult time for the journalist,” he said.
“I have long held concerns over the character of the alternate premier. To that end, it was never my intent to cause distress for the journalist.”
NSW detectives have contacted ABC management saying they stand ready to investigate should Raper make a formal complaint.
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