NSW Labor MPs desert former leader Foley

The then deputy NSW opposition leader, Michael Daley, member for Strathfield Jodi McKay and the then opposition leader Luke Foley on Thursday. Photo: Joel Carrett, AAP
The then deputy NSW opposition leader, Michael Daley, member for Strathfield Jodi McKay and the then opposition leader Luke Foley on Thursday. Photo: Joel Carrett, AAP

Senior NSW Labor MPs are abandoning Luke Foley and siding with the journalist who claims he groped her, with several now questioning the former state party leader's plan to take legal action.

Meanwhile, the NSW premier has expressed disappointment in her minister David Elliott for publicly raising the allegations without the woman's consent.

Deputy leader Michael Daley and Labor's highest-ranking female MP Jodi McKay on Friday threw their support behind ABC reporter Ashleigh Raper, who alleges Mr Foley put his hand down her underwear at a party in 2016.

Mr Daley said Ms Raper "did the right thing" in coming forward, even though Mr Foley had repeatedly and strongly denied the claims.

"She's a credible person and I believe her," he told reporters in Sydney.

"Ashleigh Raper did not deserve to be treated that way."

Mr Foley resigned on Thursday night but wants to stay on the backbench while he pursues defamation proceedings in the Federal Court.

However Mr Daley, widely tipped to take over the leadership at a caucus meeting on Saturday, believes nothing good will come of it.

"It will be damaging for everyone, particularly for Ashleigh Raper," he said.

"I think Luke should carefully reconsider whether he wants to take those legal proceedings or not."

Ms McKay was also surprised about his plan to sue.

"Do I think that is the right decision? No," she told reporters on the Central Coast.

"This just prolongs what Ashleigh has gone through and what she is going through and I think there needs to be a whole lot of serious consideration by Luke."

Their sentiments were echoed by federal Labor frontbencher Ed Husic and Liberal cabinet minister Christopher Pyne.

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

Ms Raper issued a statement on Thursday detailing her version of the alleged drunken behaviour at a Sydney bar following a parliamentary Christmas party in 2016.

She alleged Mr Foley "put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside my underpants" and "rested his hand on my buttocks".

It came after Liberal MP David Elliott raised the matter under parliamentary privilege in October.

Mr Elliott released a short statement on Friday following heavy criticism of his role in the scandal.

"This has clearly been a difficult time for the journalist," he said.

"I have long held concerns over the character of the alternate premier. To that end, it was never my intent to cause distress for the journalist."

Ms Berejiklian said she was disappointed control of the story was taken by Mr Elliott out of the hands of the Ms Raper.

"I've expressed my absolute disappointment that her ability to control the issue, as she wanted to, was taken away from her," Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

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

Australian Associated Press