Luke Foley has resigned as NSW Labor leader

Luke Foley William West/AFP/Getty Images

NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley has resigned as Labor leader, but says he plans to sue for defamation over the claims made by an ABC journalist about what happened at Christmas drinks in 2016.

He will remain in parliament as a backbencher.

The Labor MP stepped down after journalist Ashleigh Raper issued a statement to address claims of inappropriate behaviour by Foley.

“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 said.

Raper said they were at a bar in Sydney’s Martin Place when Foley approached a group, including Raper, to say goodnight.

She said he put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside her underpants.

She claims he rang her on the weekend, knowing he’s offended her in some way, but not recalling what had happened.

Foley has maintained he did not do anything inappropriate on the evening in question and on Thursday evening said the claims were false.

Announcing he was stepping down as the party leader, Foley said he had retained solicitors for defamation proceedings.