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Australian opposition leader cleared of rape allegation

Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten revealed Thursday (Aug 21) he had been cleared by police of historical sex assault allegations, which he said were "abhorrent".

SYDNEY: Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten revealed Thursday (Aug 21) he had been cleared by police of historical sex assault allegations, which he said were "abhorrent".

Shorten, who became Labor leader in October 2013, broke his silence about the claims first made on social media late last year, to put the issue behind him. "I will not go into details, except to say that the allegation was untrue and abhorrent," he said in a statement. "There is absolutely no basis to the claim."

The claim concerned an alleged incident in the 1980s when he was aged 19 and was made by a woman he knew briefly at that time. "The claim has now been thoroughly and vigorously investigated by the police as is entirely proper. I fully cooperated to clear my name and that is what I've done," said the 47-year-old.

Police in Victoria state confirmed it investigated an allegation of historical sexual assault, reportedly rape. "Investigating police sought advice from the Office of Public Prosecutions, which advised there was no reasonable prospect of conviction," they said in a statement. "All parties have been notified that Victoria Police will not be proceeding with criminal charges."

Shorten said the allegations had been "deeply distressing" for his family. "The police have now concluded the investigation. The decision speaks for itself. It is over."

The Australian newspaper reported earlier Thursday that a "senior Labor figure" had been cleared of raping a teenager after a formal complaint was made to police in October. The alleged victim claimed the assault took place at a Labor Party camp in Victoria in 1986, the newspaper said.

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