EMBATTLED Sunshine Coast MP Peter Slipper has stood aside as Speaker as explosive allegations that he sexually harassed a male staffer are investigated.
Mr Slipper flew back into a political storm which now threatens the Gillard Government given the fragile balance of power in Parliament.
Former aid James Ashby, 33, has claimed Mr Slipper, 62, hired him to pursue him sexually - a claim Mr Slipper has emphatically denied.
But this afternoon, he announced he would stand aside while the criminal allegation against him is resolved.
The Daily understands that allegation relates to alleged misuse of Cabcharges.
"The allegations include both a claim of criminal behaviour and claim under civil law,'' Mr Slipper said.
"Any allegation of criminal behaviour was grave and should be dealt with in a manner that showed appropriate regard to the integrity of Australia's democratic institutions and to precedent," he said.
"As such, I believe it is appropriate for me to stand aside as Speaker while this criminal allegation is resolved.''
The allegation by former aide James Ashby was incorrect, Mr Slipper said.
"Once it is clear they are untrue I shall return to the Speakership,'' he said.
"In relation to the civil matter there will be an appropriate process that will resolve the matter in due course.''
Labor MP and Deputy Speaker, Anna Burke, will act as Speaker.
Mr Slipper, who was under mounting pressure over his travel expenses following ongoing investigations by the Sunshine Coast Daily, left the Liberals last year and struck a deal with the Gillard Government to become Speaker.
The deal allowed the government to abandon its pledge to bring about poker machine reform as pushed by independent Andrew Wilkie.
Yesterday, Mr Wilkie joined Opposition leader Tony Abbott in calling for Mr Slipper to stand aside as Speaker.
This afternoon, media crews were camped outside his Gleneagle Court home in Buderim awaiting his arrival back from the Brisbane airport after an overnight flight from Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, a very weary looking Mr Slipper repeatedly denied the allegations which were plastered across the front page of most News Ltd papers in the country yesterday.
The Coalition turned up the pressure, saying it would push for a vote to remove Mr Slipper.
But Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan told the ABC's Insiders this morning it was up to Mr Slipper to decide whether to stand aside.
"I've been in Parliament a long time. I've seen allegations come and go. These are now allegations that are in legal proceedings," he said.
Independent MP Tony Windsor said Mr Slipper was entitled to the presumption of innocence.
"We do have a judicial system. We don't try people in our Parliament," he said.
"The allegations are serious, there's no doubt about that but they are not proven and everybody has that right of due process."
PETER SLIPPER'S FULL STATEMENT TODAY
Some allegations have been made against me by Mr James Ashby. I emphatically deny these allegations.
The allegations include both a claim of criminal behaviour and a claim under civil law.
Any allegation of criminal behaviour is grave and should be dealt with in a manner that shows appropriate regard to the integrity of our democratic institutions and to precedent.
As such, I believe it is appropriate for me to stand aside as Speaker while this criminal allegation is resolved.
The allegation is incorrect, and once it is clear they are untrue I shall return to the Speakership...
In relation to the civil matter there will be an appropriate process that will resolve the matter in due course.
This home really has it all! With large spacious open plan living areas, a modern kitchen, great sized bedrooms, generous sized level grass yard and one amazing...
This spacious open plan property is only 10 years young, and could be mistaken for a brand new home. Perfectly positioned in a peaceful quiet cul-de-sac with a...
Positioned in a small peaceful friendly cul-de-sac with an ideal north-east facing yard, it would be hard to find a better street, if not a better property. Walk...
If you are looking for the perfect property ideal either as an investment or a family home, then this is definitely it. One of the quietest and friendliest streets...
Our vendors have made their intentions very clear, they will be selling this property at auction. Surrounded by natural light and native trees, this property...
Make this prestigious home your own personal paradise. Be amazed with the flawless presentation, quality finish and abundance of living space. There is a huge...
This wonderful family home is positioned perfectly on a level 714sqm block in the popular Peregian Springs. There is certainly more than enough room here for...
This quality modern single level home is set on the high side of the street on a huge 783sqm corner block. The options are endless with a large backyard, ample...
If you are looking for a dual living opportunity for the extended family or some extra income this home is one not to miss! Located at the end of a quiet culdesac...
Located in a highly sought after Peregian street with quality homes, this is a superb entry level opportunity for a first home buyer or investor to purchase a...
Join the Community.
Get your local news, your way.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.