Joyce sexual harassment complaint ‘compromised’
A SEXUAL harassment claim against Barnaby Joyce was compromised by political interference, an internal party review has found.
The review found the interference by WA Nationals MPs led to the complainant's identity being exposed and the former deputy Prime Minister being denied a fair hearing.
Fairfax Media, which has seen pages of the review, reports there was extensive contact between WA Nationals MPs and West Australian woman Catherine Marriott, who lodged a formal complaint with the National Party about Mr Joyce's behaviour outside a beef industry event at Canberra's Kurrajong Hotel in 2016.
WA Nationals state director Simon Glossop, who conducted the review, said in his report that the contact between MPs and Ms Marriott may have been well-meaning but it had thrown suspicion on the WA Nationals and potentially made them look like "co-conspirators" in a push to force Mr Joyce to step down.
He found "an ever-widening circle of Nationals MPs" knew of the allegation in the days leading up to Mr Joyce announcing his intention to resign on Friday February 23.
"It is clear that the actions of the [parliamentary] members dealing with this matter further compromised the party and the victim," the review document notes, according to Fairfax Media.
"The backgrounding and informing [of] other political operatives interfered with the process and increased the risk of the knowledge of the allegation becoming public and ultimately the publicly [sic] naming of the victim.
"It deprived the federal leader the opportunity of a fair hearing."
Mr Joyce has denied the allegation, calling it spurious and defamatory.
But he acknowledged the claim was the reason he had chosen to step down as Nationals leader when he resigned last month.
Mr Joyce had initially defied calls to step down despite the damage the scandal surrounding his affair with former staffer Vikki Campion had done to the government for almost three weeks.
Fairfax Media reports Mr Glossop concluded his report into the handling of the complaint by asking three key questions.
He asked whether any Nationals MPs had proof read the allegation before it was lodged, whether any resources were "paid for, procured, or provided" by the party or party members to support the complaint, and what consideration may have been given to "brokering the message that Barnaby Joyce resign or these allegations be publicly aired".