Former Liberal minister to stand trial

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Former NSW Liberal MP Gareth Ward has formally pleaded not guilty and will face trial on historical sexual and indecent assault allegations.

The Kiama MP, who has been suspended from parliament and is on bail, will fight five charges; sexual intercourse without consent, three counts of assault with act of indecency, and one count of common assault.

“Not guilty,” Mr Ward said in Nowra District Court on Tuesday, after each of the five charges were read to the court.

Police allege the incidents occurred in 2013 and 2015.

MP Gareth Ward pictured arriving at Nowra District Court where he formally pleaded not guilty to historical sexual assault charges. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Monique HarmerMP Gareth Ward pictured arriving at Nowra District Court where he formally pleaded not guilty to historical sexual assault charges. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Monique HarmerMr Ward will now face trial on the five charges. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Monique HarmerMr Ward will now face trial on the five charges. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Monique HarmerThe charges against him relate to two alleged incidents involving a 27-year-old man in Sydney 2015, and a 17-year-old boy in the Shoalhaven area in 2013. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Monique HarmerThe charges against him relate to two alleged incidents involving a 27-year-old man in Sydney 2015, and a 17-year-old boy in the Shoalhaven area in 2013. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Monique Harmer

The alleged 2013 incident involved a then-25-year-old man in the Shoalhaven area of NSW.

The alleged 2015 incident involved a man who was then aged 17 at Potts Point in Sydney.

Mr Ward was previously the Families, Communities and Disability Services Minister, and was elected to parliament in 2011.

He resigned as minister and moved to the crossbench after he was expelled from the Liberal Party in 2021, and has recontested his Kiama seat in the recent NSW election as an independent.

A date has not been set for the trial. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Monique HarmerA date has not been set for the trial. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Monique HarmerMr Ward ran in the recent NSW state election, and is still in the running to return as MP in the seat of Kiama. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Monique HarmerMr Ward ran in the recent NSW state election, and is still in the running to return as MP in the seat of Kiama. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Monique Harmer

The seat of Kiama is still being fought out by Mr Ward and Labor’s Katelin McInerney, with less than 800 votes between the two as of Tuesday morning.

Even if Mr Ward retains the seat, his future prospects in parliament remain uncertain.

Premier-elect Chris Minns has confirmed he will not let Mr Ward enter parliament, even if elected.

He will face court on Monday for an application to change the location of the trial.

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