Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has issued a statement outside Parliament House, again denying allegations he drunkenly pinched a woman’s behind after an awards night ceremony in 2011.
Referring to the news Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s close advisor was informed of the allegations in 2015, Joyce told reporters “it’s not a case that I didn’t recollect it. It did not happen.”
The Nationals leader mentioned the fact the allegation was first raised with the PM’s office by a former staffer of political rival Tony Windsor, saying “this is a story that has been brought about by a person unnamed, at a venue unnamed, at a time unnamed, seven years ago, and has been peddled by the bitterest of political enemies to me.
“It is not something that I’m unaware of. They’ve had it on social media for years. It’s just, in the past, I don’t believe it dignified a response. But today, it’s in the paper and, as such, I reserve all my legal rights as to what action I should pursue.”
Joyce also apologised to his estranged wife Natalie Joyce and their four children for the media attention after the revelation he is expecting a child with former media advisor Vikki Campion.
“I would like to say to Natalie how deeply sorry I am for all the hurt this has caused. To my girls, how deeply sorry I am for all the hurt that it has caused them. To Vikki Campion, how deeply sorry I am that she has been dragged into this.”
“I would like to also say to my supporters and people in my electorate how deeply sorry I am that this personal issue – deeply personal issue – has gone into the public arena.”
The Member for New England reiterated the position Campion’s appointment didn’t violate the Ministerial Code of Conduct, as they were not partners at the time of her employment.
WATCH: Deputy Prime Minister @Barnaby_Joyce is "deeply sorry" for the "hurt" he's caused his wife, daughters and new partner Vikki Campion, and denies allegations of misconduct. #TenNews pic.twitter.com/LDg67XUxNL— TEN Eyewitness News (@channeltennews) February 12, 2018
While pollies from across the board have publicly asserted the affair should not be used as political fodder, the issue of whether Campion’s appointment was totally kosher remains a topic of interest.
Joyce has faced intense pressure to step down from his position over the scandal, before he serves as Acting Prime Minister next week during Turnbull’s diplomatic trip to the United States.
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Image: AAP Image / Lucas Coch