Barnaby Joyce apologises to his family and his new partner, denies he pinched a woman's backside, and hints at legal action

Stefan Postles/ Getty ImagesDeputy Prime Minister of Australia Barnaby Joyce

Barnaby Joyce has denied he pinched a woman’s backside in 2011.

This morning the Daily Telegraph reported the accusations made against the Nationals leader and deputy Prime Minister, and that Prime Minister Malcolm Tunrbull was made aware of it in 2015.

Joyce said it was “a story that is not the truth… it did not happen” and that he was considering taking legal action against the publisher of the newspaper.

“I reserve all my legal rights as to what action I should pursue,” he said.

He also apologised to his former wife, daughter and new partner Vikki Campion who were “dragged in this”.

And he said to his supporters and his electorate that he was “deeply sorry” the “personal issue” was played out in the public arena.

He addressed concerns that he was in breach of the ministerial code of conduct that prevents MPs from giving jobs to family and partners.

“I am very aware of the ministerial code of conduct. It is without a shadow of a doubt that Vikki Campion is my partner now,” he said.

“When she worked in my office she was not my partner, when she worked for Matt Canavan’s office she was not my partner, and Damian Drum was not a minister.

“I think this is vitally important in how we differentiate between the public and the private.”

It comes after the Prime Minister’s office 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.

The embattled National Party leader has faced scrutiny over his relationship with Campion, who is several months pregnant with their child, since Joyce admitted publicly he had separated from his wife of 24 years last December.

Former Nationals leader John ­Anderson told The Australian Joyce should to take “direct responsibility” for the political damage resulting from the revelation of his relationship with Campion.

READ MORE: Barnaby Joyce is resigning

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