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NSW MP Gareth Ward steps down while facing sexual violence probe

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New South Wales MP Gareth Ward has named himself as the politician under investigation by police for “sexual violence-related offences” dating back eight years.

Police are investigating the allegations, which reportedly took place in 2013, they confirmed on Thursday.

In a statement on Thursday night Mr Ward denied any wrongdoing.

However the Member for Kiama said he would step down as the Minister for Families, and remove himself from the Liberal Party room while the investigation is ongoing.

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“Today I have been made aware by a journalist of an investigation into me by NSW Police,” he said in a statement.

“I have not been contacted by police in relation to any allegations.”

“I deny any wrongdoing.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she too was made aware of the allegations by the media.

“I have subsequently received advice from Minister Gareth Ward of his decision to step aside as minister and sit on the cross bench while there is speculation about his future,” she said in a statement.

“I support his decision.”

Attorney-General Mark Speakman will take on Mr Ward’s portfolio responsibilities.

It is the second such incident of sexual assault against a NSW MP this year following allegations Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen raped a sex worker in 2019. He has since resigned from parliament.

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Mr Johnsen has not been charged by police and denies the allegation, calling it unfair and unfounded.

-AAP

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