Luke foley
NSW Labor leader Luke Foley reacts during question time to demands he step down. Image credit: AAP/DEAN LEWINS

The previously anonymous ABC journalist at the centre of sexual harassment allegations against New South Wales opposition leader Luke Foley has broken her silence.

In a statement released by the national broadcaster today, Ashleigh Raper claims that Foley, at a Christmas party in 2016, “put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside my underpants. He rested his hand on my buttocks.”

Foley, according to Raper, contacted her last Sunday to apologise for his behaviour and explain that he would resign as the leader between Monday and Wednesday this week. On Tuesday, she says, he called again to say he would not be resigning due to “legal advice”.

The statement leaves Foley’s position utterly untenable and his resignation must only be a matter of time, leaving NSW Labor without a leader just four months from the next state election. Maroubra MP Michael Daley is expected to replace him. 

A NSW government minister raised the alleged incident under parliamentary privilege recently, prompting Foley to threaten personal retribution against the Coalition. The issue was raised without Raper’s consent or knowledge and she had decided, until today, to stay silent on the issue. She outlined the reasons for her silence that should be quoted at length.

It is clear to me that a woman who is the subject of such behaviour is often the person who suffers once a complaint is made. I cherished my position as a state political reporter and feared that would be lost. I also feared the negative impact the publicity could have on me personally and on my young family. This impact is now being felt profoundly.

Raper goes on to make a forthright statement about how the whole issue has been handled. 

There are three things I want to come from my decision to make this statement.

First, women should be able to go about their professional lives and socialise without being subject to this sort of behaviour.

And I want it to stop.

Second, situations like mine should not be discussed in parliament for the sake of political point scoring.

And I want it to stop.

Third, I want to get on with my life.

Foley took over as NSW Labor leader just prior to the 2015 election when predecessor John Robertson resigned after it was revealed he had written a supportive letter for Lindt Cafe terrorist Man Monis.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey