Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has denied drunkenly pinching a woman’s bottom after a 2011 awards night celebration, after it was revealed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s close advisor was informed of the allegation in 2o15.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph last night, the woman allegedly sexually harassed by the Nationals leader said she approached Joyce after the Rural Women’s Agricultural Awards in Canberra.
The woman, who chose to remain nameless, states she was concerned about Joyce’s alleged interaction with another woman.
“I went over to the bar and he was very, very drunk and nearly falling over,” she said.
“I said ‘Barnaby, I think you should go home. You’re very drunk.’ He leant over and he pinched my bottom.”
John Clements, a former staffer of Joyce’s longtime political rival Tony Windsor, said he spoke to the “rattled” woman after the alleged incident.
Text messages obtained by News Corp and Fairfax Media show Clements relaid the alleged incident in 2015 to Sally Cray, a trusted advisor to the Prime Minister.
In his text messages to Cray, Clements called Joyce a “goose” in the messages, adding “the rural women’s award pub incident has too many witnesses to go away” and “he was worse than drunk at a nightclub”.
The Daily Telegraph reports it appears Cray subsequently investigated the matter and brought it to Joyce’s attention. However, as nobody claimed to be a victim at the time and no complaints were made, no further action was taken.
Through a spokesperson, Joyce outright denied the allegation by saying he didn’t attend a nightclub or pub after the awards dinner. The spokesperson also said the fact the claims emerged from a former staffer to Windsor should be cause for skepticism.
The first woman involved in the alleged incident has also denied any wrongdoing on Joyce’s behalf.
The allegations have resurfaced amid intense political pressure on Joyce, stemming from the revelation he is expecting a child with former media advisor Vikki Campion, and that Joyce left his wife of 24 years to pursue the relationship.
As it stands, Joyce is slated to become Acting Prime Minister next week as Turnbull visits the United States to meet with President Donald Trump.
If you would like to talk to a counsellor about sexual harassment, give the people over at 1800 RESPECT a call on 1800 737 732.
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