Victorian Senator David Van has resigned from the Liberal Party after multiple allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women were made against him this week.
In a scathing resignation letter to the Victorian Liberal Party president Greg Mirabella, Senator Van rejected the allegations and expressed that he was “deeply distressed and hurt” by the claims, ABC news reports.
“I cannot remain a member of a party that tramples upon the very premise on which our justice system is predicated,” he wrote.
“I am deeply distressed and hurt that I have not been afforded procedural fairness in relation to these claims … I will continue to fight for what I thought were the party’s values — just not under its banner.”
According to 9News, although Senator Van has left the party his email did not mention that he would be resigning his seat.
Prior to his resignation, Liberal leader Peter Dutton called for Senator Van to resign from parliament after sharing that a third person had brought allegations against the senator to him earlier this week.
Speaking to Channel Nine on Friday morning, Dutton did not identify the third accuser or go into any extra detail about the additional allegation, however, he said that the information had informed his decision to expel Senator Van from the Liberal Party room.
“I raised another allegation with Senator Van but I’m not going to comment in relation to those matters otherwise,” Dutton told Today.
“I made a decision yesterday based on all of the information that was available to me.”
Dutton also confirmed that Senator Van has denied any wrongdoing.
Later on 2GB, Dutton told host Ray Hadley that the third accusation was “of a similar nature” to the inappropriate touching former Liberal Senator Amanda Stoker allegedly experienced.
“I think it’s in everyone’s best interests that he resign from the parliament and I hope he’s able to do that sooner rather than later and seek the help that he needs,” Dutton told 2GB Radio.
“I think that would be an appropriate next step.”
When recalling the incident, Stoker claimed the “inappropriate touching” was “unprofessional and uninvited”, and alleged that “by its repetition, it was not accidental”.
She said she broached it with him the next day, and that Van apologised and promised it wouldn’t happen again. At the time, she accepted his apology, and said she experienced no misconduct by him after that.
According to the ABC, David Van reportedly said that while he did have a conversation with Stoker after the party, he has no recollection of any inappropriate touching.
“I can confirm I had a very friendly and open discussion with my colleague some years ago about this and made it clear that I had no recollection of any such event, and can confirm it is not something I would ever do,” he said, per ABC News.
He also released a statement on Friday where he said he was “utterly shattered” by the allegations against him and “stunned that my good reputation can be so wantonly savaged without due process or accountability”.
Liberal party leader Peter Dutton confirmed to Nine’s Today that he was aware of further allegations against Van, aside from the ones we already know about from Lidia Thorpe and Stoker.
“I raised another allegation with Senator Van but I’m not going to comment in relation to those matters otherwise,” he said.
Van maintains his innocence and said he will not to be releasing any more statements until an investigation into the claims is concluded.
Stoker’s allegations come off the back of a statement Lidia Thorpe read to the senate on Thursday, where she accused unnamed men in Parliament House of sexually assaulting her and behaving inappropriately.
Thorpe alleged that, in 2021, one man followed her into a stairwell and touched her inappropriately, which she reported to the Liberal party and the sex discrimination commissioner at the time.
In her speech, Thorpe called for Van to take accountability for allegedly making women feel unsafe in the building.
“Yesterday I had to listen to a senator who has made me feel unsafe speak on how important it is to keep women safe in Parliament,” she said.
“Silence is violence. And yesterday I could not stay silent as someone who has knowingly made me feel unsafe had the gall to stand up in front of Parliament and preach about protecting women.
“This was not an isolated incident. And there are others I could name who have inappropriately touched me. Invaded my space and knowingly made me feel unsafe.”
David Van categorically denied all of Thorpe’s allegations, which he labelled “reprehensible” and “outrageous”.
“Let me say this in the clearest possible terms, Senator Thorpe’s allegations are concocted from beginning to end. Nothing she has alleged against me is truthful,” he said in a statement to the Senate on Thursday.
Peter Dutton then announced his decision to remove Van from the Liberal party room and boot him to the backbench, a decision he came to after he revealed there were further allegations against Van.
However, Dutton made it clear he was not taking any sides, and Van maintains he only complied for the sake of avoiding drama within the party — he does not consider this an admission of guilt and has called for an investigation into Thorpe’s allegations, which he says he will happily comply with to prove they are “false”.
Image: Senator David Van / davidvan.com.au