Australian MPs question politician's vow to sue over allegation he groped journalist

Federal MPs on both sides of Australia's political spectrum have questioned former NSW Labor leader Luke Foley's plan to sue over claims he groped an ABC journalist two years ago.

Mr Foley resigned from his leadership position yesterday after reporter Ashleigh Raper went public with allegations he put his hand inside her underwear at a 2016 parliamentary Christmas after-party in Sydney's CBD.

Ms Raper gave her account of the alleged drunken behaviour after Liberal MP David Elliott raised the issue in October under parliamentary privilege.

"He stood next to me. He put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside my underpants. He rested his hand on my buttocks. I completely froze," she alleged.

Mr Foley vehemently denies the allegations and says he plans to launch defamation proceedings in the Federal Court.

Federal Labor frontbencher Ed Husic said he was shocked and appalled by the allegations and that said the former state opposition leader had no choice but to resign.

But it would also be "very tricky" for him to remain in parliament on the backbench while fighting the matter in court.

Luke Foley. Source: Wikimedia.commons

"He is going to have to make a choice on that, but I think it will be very tough for him looking at what has transpired and the likelihood of a legal case," Mr Husic told Nine Network on Friday.

"Frankly, I don't think the person at the heart of it - Ashleigh - should have to go through (a protracted legal case)."

Federal cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said it was a bad situation.

"It is unfortunate Luke Foley is suing the ABC for defamation. He must think he has a case and good luck to him, but that is just going to keep extending it," he said.

Mr Pyne refused to call on Mr Elliott to apologise for raising the matter in parliament, saying the Corrections minister has to answer for his own decisions.

Mr Elliott has remained silent since Ms Raper's statement was released.

NSW detectives have contacted ABC management saying they stood ready to investigate should Ms Raper make a formal complaint.

Labor MPs fear Mr Foley's messy resignation could endanger the party's chance of victory in the March 2019 NSW election.

His likely successor, deputy Labor leader Michael Daley, will have four months to repair the damage and challenge the Berejiklian government.

The NSW Labor caucus will meet on Saturday to elect a new leader.