Stood-aside Speaker Peter Slipper has resigned from his role as chancellor of the Traditional Anglican Communion in the wake of allegations he sexually harassed a male adviser and misused taxpayer funds.
In a letter to parliament’s Registry of Members’ Interests, dated August 8, Mr Slipper, who is an ordained priest, writes that he has stepped down from the role.
“I advise that I have resigned as chancellor of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia (Traditional Anglican Communion),” Mr Slipper wrote. “Would you please acknowledge receipt in due course.”
Mr Slipper’s move follows a request in April by the Australian leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion, John Hepworth, for him to stand aside while the allegations made by staffer James Ashby were investigated.
As chancellor of the breakaway TAC, Mr Slipper, who has denied all the claims made against him, is the chief legal adviser to Archbishop Hepworth.
“It is right for anyone accused of serious misconduct in public life, whether in church life or political life, to stand aside until the processes of justice reach a conclusion,” Archbishop Hepworth said on April 22.
“Ministers of the crown and cardinals of the church have followed this sound principle in recent years in Australia; otherwise, the integrity of our core institutions is eroded, and our expectations of public morality further decay.”
Last year, Mr Slipper backed the move by the TAC to join the Catholic Church.
Deputy Speaker Anna Burke yesterday presided over the first day of parliament in the spring session, with Mr Slipper still stood-aside pending the outcome of an Australian Federal Police investigation and the sexual harassment claims in the Federal Court.
The AFP last month completed its formal criminal investigation into allegations the Sunshine Coast MP and Liberal National Party defector misused Cabcharge dockets and handed it over to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for assessment.
The CDPP is yet to make a decision on whether to proceed with the case.
Gillard government ministers have been criticised by the Coalition for prejudging Mr Ashby’s claims that Mr Slipper sexually harassed him, by publicly outlining key planks of the commonwealth’s defence before they have been heard in the Federal Court.
The commonwealth’s defence was dealt a blow last month when Federal Court judge Steven Rares ruled that its allegations of a political conspiracy prevented Mr Ashby from having to make a submission on the allegations in the civil case, on the grounds he could incriminate himself.
For info: A new Chancellor of the Diocese was already appointed as of last month, Dr Sandra McColl.