NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward has outed himself as the MP under police investigation over allegations of sexual violence.
In a statement released on Thursday, Ward said he denies any wrongdoing but will stand aside as Minister and from the Liberal Party room.
“Today I have been made aware by a journalist of an investigation into me by NSW Police,” Ward said.
“I have not been contacted by police in relation to any allegations.
“Until this matter is resolved, it is appropriate I stand aside from my role as Minister. I will also remove myself from the Liberal Party room.
“I will not be making any further comment at this time.”
NSW Liberal MP and minister for families Gareth Ward has released a statement:
“I have not been contacted by Police in relation to any allegations. I deny any wrongdoing.”
But he and Premier Berejiklian confirm he will stand aside as minister and from Liberal party room pic.twitter.com/ap7hKKOK34
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) May 13, 2021
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also issued a statement accepting Ward’s decision to step down.
“I was made aware through media reports today that an MP is under investigation by police,” she said.
“I have subsequently received advice from Minister Gareth Ward of his decision to step aside as Minister and sit on the crossbench while there is speculation about his future.
“I support his decision.”
This comes after police confirmed an investigation by the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes squad was being conducted under Strike Force Condello on Thursday morning. The allegations of sexual violence date back to 2013.
Earlier today, Deputy Premier John Barilaro told 2GB that the investigation involved “involved serious allegations” and “were not acceptable.”
“This is how I started this by-election,” Barilaro said.
“When accusations were made in the house about an individual … and it was the former member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen, I dealt with it in two and a half hours in benching him.”