Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle says Luke Foley’s position ‘untenable’ ahead of his resignation as Labor leader

ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper (inset) has released an explosive statement containing allegations against NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley. Pictures: AAP/Twitter
ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper (inset) has released an explosive statement containing allegations against NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley. Pictures: AAP/Twitter

Blue Mountains Labor MP Trish Doyle issued a statement calling for NSW Labor leader Luke Foley’s resignation in the role before he announced his decision to quit the leader’s job today [Thursday].

Mr Foley resigned as leader following allegations made by an ABC journalist who said he put his hands down her underpants during a parliamentary staff Christmas party nearly two years ago.

Mr Foley said the allegations were false and he had retained solicitors and would begin defamation proceedings.

“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,” he told a brief press conference at 5.30pm.

“Therefore I’m resigning the leadership of the Labor Party effective today. This will enable the new leader to give their full attention of defeating the Liberal National government.”

In a statement earlier, Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle called for Mr Foley’s resignation as leader in the event he did not quit the role.

“In my view, Mr Foley’s position is untenable and he must resign today. Bad behaviour is bad behaviour, whoever does it,” she said.

“In the event that he refuses to resign, I will call for a spill of the NSW Labor leadership to resolve this issue.”

Mr Doyle’s statement also said: “Politics, like the entertainment industry, is lagging far behind the rest of society in its handling of workplace sexual harrassment and bullying. We need a significant cultural shift in society so that women can feel safe and so that when they make a complaint it is taken seriously.

“The allegations against Luke Foley are serious and they are unacceptable.

“I am concerned that this issue has drawn out and caused such distress and anguish for the journalist at the centre of it.”

Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle

Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle

In a statement issued earlier on Thursday, journalist 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.

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.

- with Australian Associated Press