Nationals leader and deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will reportedly make a statement today fighting to keep his job and rejecting allegations that he pinched a woman’s backside.
A spokesman for Joyce said today the allegations against him were false and defamatory, according to Sky News.
The Daily Telegraph today reported an encounter with a “very, very drunk” Joyce in 2011.
The woman says she had confronted Joyce about his intoxication and his behaviour with another woman at an awards evening in Canberra. “He leant over and he pinched my bottom,” she claims.
The Telegraph reported that in 2015 the Prime Minister’s senior adviser Sally Cray received text messages from John Clements, a former chief advisor to Tony Windsor, warning her of Joyce’s behaviour four years earlier.
Windsor is the former MP for Joyce’s seat of New England. They are political enemies.
Joyce has denied the 2011 incident and is expected to make a statement today on the matter.
The embattled National Party leader has faced scrutiny over his relationship with a former staffer, Vikki Campion, 33, who is several months pregnant with their child, after Joyce admitted publicly he had separated from his wife of 24 years last December.
Former Nationals leader John Anderson says Joyce should to take “direct responsibility” for the political damage resulting from the revelation of his relationship with Campion.
According to The Australian, Anderson has warned the current Nationals leader and his colleagues take matters “into their own hands” or risk the debacle ending “even more messily”.
It comes after the office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday that job appointments for Campion which involved her moving out of Joyce’s office to work for other senior National Party MPs were not in breach of the ministerial code of conduct because Campion was not officially Joyce’s partner at the time.
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