Scandal-hit Australia deputy PM resigns

ANI | Updated: Feb 23, 2018 13:45 IST

Canberra [Australia], Feb 23 (ANI): Barnaby Joyce has announced his resignation as Australia's deputy prime minister and leader of the Nationals amid claims of sexual harassment and an affair with a former aide.

The scandal has dominated Australian headlines for over two weeks.

Joyce saw his support shrink after the revelation on Thursday night that a sexual harassment complaint had been made against him to the country-based National party, the junior partner in the ruling Liberal-National Coalition, reported the Guardian.

The former deputy prime minister has branded the sexual harassment allegations against him as "spurious and defamatory."

He had previously resisted calls to quit amid intense scrutiny over his ministerial conduct. He had refused to resign when it was made public that he was expecting a child with his former press secretary Vikki Campion, according to the reports.

Joyce said that he had faced a "litany of allegations" that he did not think had been sustained but the sexual harassment complaint was "the straw that broke the camel's back."

Joyce was deputy prime minister since February 2016 when he was elected head of the National party, the junior partner in Australia's governing coalition.

Meanwhile, last year, it was discovered that he was disqualified because he held dual citizenship when he ran for the election in 2016 - forbidden under the Australian electoral law.

He renounced his New Zealand citizenship in August and potentially threw his position in the parliament into jeopardy. (ANI)