Australian quits anti-Muslim party over strip club video

CANBERRA, Australia — A candidate in Australia's upcoming general election quit his anti-Muslim political party on Tuesday after video of him groping and propositioning dancers in a U.S. strip club was broadcast on national television.

Steve Dickson had been Queensland state president of the One Nation Party and a Senate candidate in May 18 elections.

The 56-year-old resigned from the party after Nine Network television on Monday night broadcast his antics in the Washington, D.C., club in September that were secretly videoed by Al Jazeera.

It was the second time that Dickson and his party have been embarrassed and politically damaged by the Qatar-owned broadcaster.

Dickson said in a statement Tuesday that his political career was over. He said the strip club video "shows a person who was drunk and not in control of his actions and I take full responsibility for allowing that to happen."

An Al Jazeera documentary broadcast in March reported that Dickson and One Nation official James Ashby flew to the United States for meetings with pro-gun interests including the National Rifle Association and political donors Koch Industries seeking money to undermine Australian gun laws. Dickson visited the strip club during the same trip.

One Nation's leader, Pauline Hanson, who was criticized for once wearing a burqa in the Senate, said Dickson's behavior was unacceptable for a candidate for her party.

"Steve is a family man. He is deeply upset about this," Hanson told reporters. Dickson is married with two adult sons.

Hanson also accused Al Jazeera of trying to hurt her party, which opposes Muslim immigration, three weeks before an election.

Al Jazeera said it did not give consent for its video to be broadcast.

"Al Jazeera did not consider it in the public interest to broadcast the material," the broadcaster said in a statement. "Al Jazeera condemns the unauthorized use of its material."

Nine said in a statement that the video was "leaked" to the program that broadcast it, "A Current Affair." No money was paid, Nine said.

"We stand by the story and Mr. Dickson's resignation this morning highlights the public interest in broadcasting the footage," the statement said.

While Dickson has quit the party, it is too late for his name to be removed from ballots. Voting started on Monday for Australians who will not be able to vote on May 18.

Analysts agree that Dickson would have little chance of winning a Senate seat even without the latest scandal.

One Nation's popularity has slumped in opinion polling since March, when the party was accused of trying to sell out Australia's strict gun laws. The party leaders accuse Al Jazeera of taking their comments, which were secretly recorded by a journalist posing as a gun lobbyist, out of context.

One Nation had four senators after the last election but has been left with two after defections. Such minor parties are influential in the Senate, where governments rarely hold a majority of seats and need to bargain to get legislation passed.

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