By Rachel Eddie
Ousted Labor MP Will Fowles has been arrested and interviewed by the Victoria Police sexual crimes squad after a government employee made a serious allegation against him in August.
Fowles has strenuously denied any wrongdoing.
Victoria Police confirmed a 45-year-old Ringwood man was arrested on October 12 and released without charge as part of their ongoing investigation.
“Detectives from the sexual crimes squad executed a warrant at a Ringwood address on 12 October as part of an ongoing investigation into an incident in the Melbourne CBD,” a police spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
“A 45-year-old Ringwood man was arrested at the property and interviewed by police. He was released without charge pending further enquiries.
“As the investigation is ongoing and given the sensitive nature of the matter, we will not be commenting further at this time.”
Fowles, the member for Ringwood in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs, was forced to resign from the parliamentary Labor Party in early August at then-premier Daniel Andrews’ request after his office was informed of the allegation.
The premier’s office referred the matter to police on August 5 — when Andrews made the shock late-night announcement that Fowles had resigned from the parliamentary party — three days after the alleged incident in Melbourne’s CBD during a parliamentary sitting week.
“My office made further inquiries over Friday 4 and Saturday 5 August and has now received information from a government employee about an alleged serious assault by the Member for Ringwood,” Andrews said in a statement at the time.
Andrews at the time said the wellbeing of staff and the right to a safe workplace was non-negotiable.
Victoria Police confirmed it had received the referral but stressed it had not received an official complaint from the alleged victim. Weeks later, police confirmed officers had opened a formal investigation.
Last month, Fowles advised the lower house Speaker that he would not attend parliamentary sitting days until the conclusion of any investigation.
“I have not been spoken to by anyone regarding this false allegation,” he said last month.
“I’ll continue to work in my electorate and make representations on behalf of my constituents, whose many messages of support I have gratefully received.”
He has previously said he would co-operate with any process or inquiry and has described feeling shocked and distressed at the accusation.
“I strenuously deny any allegation of assault. It is not true. There was no assault,” he said in early August.
“I was asked to stand aside as a member of the parliamentary Labor Party, a situation I expect will be temporary.”
Fowles remains a member of parliament as an independent MP, and is still a member of the broader Victorian Labor Party.
He has previously opened up about substance and alcohol abuse after he smashed a hole through a door in a Canberra hotel in 2019 following an altercation with staff over his luggage.
He apologised over that incident, pledged to pay for the damage and took leave with full pay while seeking treatment for drug and alcohol issues.
Fowles was contacted on Tuesday.
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