Moira Deeming issues ultimatum to Victorian Liberal leader to declare she’s not a Nazi sympathiser

Suspended Victorian Liberal MP, Moira Deeming, has issued an ultimatum to opposition leader, John Pesutto, to issue a statement declaring he does not believe she is a Nazi or Nazi sympathiser on Thursday afternoon or face legal action.

Deeming was suspended for nine months from the Liberals during a party room meeting on 27 March, after she earlier attended an anti-transgender demonstration that was gatecrashed by neo-Nazis.

Pesutto had initially sought to expel her from the party but later said he had proposed a suspension after receiving “important concessions” from Deeming, including condemnation of comments made by the rally’s headline speaker and organiser.

According to sources close to Deeming, as part of the compromise, Pesutto had indicated he would issue a joint media statement with her, making it clear she had not been accused of being a Nazi or sympathiser.

A statement was issued by his office on the evening after the party room meeting but it was only attributed to Deeming.

In an email sent to Pesutto on Thursday morning, Deeming made it clear she did not believe the opposition leader had kept to the alleged agreement.

Deeming wrote she had only agreed to the compromise to get her family’s name “cleared” and said they had been “suffering unjustly” as a result.

“This entire saga has been unjust. I have tried for 6 long weeks to mediate a mutually satisfactory joint statement, when it should have been done that same day,” she said.

Deeming said if a statement was not issued by 2pm, she will consider that the leadership have “failed to honour the suspension agreement and I will be forced to challenge it officially, demand re-entry to the party room and instruct my lawyers to commence legal proceedings”.

Asked about the possibility of legal action, Pesutto told reporters on Thursday he was not concerned.

“If Moira Deeming is going to take action to sue me – and effectively sue the parliamentary Liberal party and the Liberal party – I think that would be a matter for her to consider,” he said.

“She’s free to do what she wants. I’m focused on holding the Andrews government to account.”

Pesutto was also forced to deny he was a bully, after allegations were made he had brought Renee Heath, an upper house MP to tears during another party room meeting on Tuesday.

Guardian Australia has heard conflicting accounts of Tuesday’s meeting, with the disagreement centred upon the minutes of the 27 March meeting when Deeming was suspended.

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Heath, an ally of Deeming, is the party room secretary and responsible for taking minutes during meetings.

Pesutto told reporters Heath provided three “very different versions” of the minutes from March. He said, because of this, he moved a motion to reject them.

“They could not be reconciled and the party room overwhelming agreed that they were not in shape for acceptance,” he said.

Heath is said to have left the meeting in tears and later wrote to her colleagues saying she felt “so shaken” by the way she was allegedly treated.

She said she felt “completely stitched up and misrepresented” by the party leadership, “with no ability to defend myself”.

“I wasn’t even given the space to correct the mistruths about me in today’s meeting,” she said in the email, first aired on Peta Credlin’s Sky News program but later seen by Guardian Australia.

“I am upset. Very upset. The way I have been treated and the way other conservative women in this party are treated is nothing short of bullying.

“Why can’t we respect each other? Why can’t you have an idea or a difference of opinions without having eyes rolled, and nasty and personal interjections?”

Pesutto said there was no bullying culture in the Liberal party.

“I’m leading with a collaborative, inclusive and professional style,” he said.