MP Gareth Ward suspended from NSW parliament after sex assault charges


nsw new south wales mp gareth ward
Image: NSW Parliament

NSW MP Gareth Ward has been suspended from the state parliament after police charged him with the alleged indecent assault of a teenage boy and the sexual assault of a man.

NSW Police charged Ward with the offences on Tuesday (March 22).

Police allege he indecently assaulted a 17-year-old boy at Meroo Meadow in 2013. They also alleged Ward sexually abused a 27-year-old man in Sydney in 2015.

The Kiama MP has denied the allegations, and he reportedly refused calls to resign.

On Thursday, NSW Acting Premier Paul Toole moved a motion to suspend the Ward from parliament until the outcome of the charges.

Toole said the former Liberal MP had been charged with five criminal offences.

“It is, therefore, appropriate the member be suspended until criminal proceedings have been finalised,” Toole said.

The motion received bipartisan support in parliament and passed.

Ward said the suspension was “based on allegations that I completely deny and that have yet to be tested in a court of law”.

“I am extremely disappointed with that decision,” he said.

“The effect of the decision is that I am unable to speak and vote in parliament.

“I will, however, continue to represent and lobby for my local community as its democratically elected member of parliament.

“As challenging a time as this is for me personally, I have an important job to do and I intend to get on with it.”

Gareth Ward charged by NSW Police on Tuesday

Last May, NSW Police detectives set up a strike force to investigate sexual violence allegations.

That same month, Gareth Ward resigned from the Liberal government and moved to the crossbench.

The MP revealed at the time he was being investigated but he denied any wrongdoing.

On Tuesday, NSW Police charged the 40-year-old with three counts of assault with an act of indecency, and one count each of sexual intercourse without consent and common assault.

However Gareth Ward said he is “completely innocent” and will defend the charges.

Ward was later granted conditional bail on Tuesday. He will appear at Port Kembla Local Court on May 18.

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