Credibility of Ardern, Haworth and Labour increasingly shaky over sexual assault claims

A follow up up on yesterday’s post Labour’s ongoing bungling of dealing with assaults within the party – the reputation of the Labour Party and the credibility of the party president Nigel, and increasingly the leader Jacinda Ardern, are on the line as the bullying and sexual assault claims grow in strength as more people and information comes out in the media.

The Spinoff: Timeline: Everything we know about the Labour staffer misconduct inquiry

Jacinda Ardern has declared herself “deeply concerned and incredibly frustrated” over the allegations levelled at a Labour staffer as well as the party investigation into the man, who remains employed by the Labour leader’s office and denies wrongdoing.

The party president says he is “confident I have handled the process in a professional manner”.

The prime minister says she had been assured that no complainant alleged sexual assault or violence. She says the first she learned of the nature of the allegations that Sarah (a pseudonym) insists she raised repeatedly with the Labour Party, was upon reading the Spinoff’s investigation published on Monday.

A crucial question is whether the Labour Party’s position, that it was not informed of the allegations, is tenable. Just as important is whether its process – for example in repeatedly failing to meet complainants’ requests to review the summaries of their oral evidence – is defensible.

They then detail “an incomplete chronology” based on public statements and numerous documents provided to The Spinoff. This collates much of what has been made known already, but includes corroboration of the authenticity of an Open Letter to Ardern:

An “open letter to the prime minister” is circulated within the party by “Me Too Labour”, an unnamed “group of Labour Party members who are writing to you to urge you to immediately take action regarding the allegations” surrounding the staffer. It makes a series of demands including the resignation of Haworth. The letter, which The Spinoff has verified originates from party members, had by lunchtime attracted more than 100 signatures.

From the open letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

We are a group of Labour Party members who are writing to you to urge you to immediately take action regarding the allegations of repeated sexual assaults, harassment and predatory behaviour of one of your staff, who is a member of the Labour Party, as detailed in these stories:

https://thespinoff.co.nz/unsponsored/09-09-2019/a-labour-volunteer-alleged-violent-sexual-assault-by-a-senior-staffer-this-is-her-story/?fbclid=IwAR2w3BYBKCccR_hDGB-qNqohdFcXnS157NsZLbBj1yVrjl9M6mBscbQjuRo

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/115592299/young-labour-abuse-victims-barred-from-parliament-offices

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/08/exclusive-labour-forced-to-review-investigation-into-bullying-sexual-assault-allegations-against-staffer.html

Some of us are the survivors. Others are their friends and supporters. All of us have watched in horror as this story has unfolded, as the survivors have been repeatedly re-traumatised, and as the Labour Party has run a shambles of a process that has enabled an alleged attacker and shut out his survivors. This issue has been discussed for too long in secret meetings and private conversations, and it is our hope that by drawing attention to it in the light of day we will get the action that the survivors deserve. We are sending this letter to the Labour Party caucus, the entirety of the New Zealand Council of the Labour Party, and to all Labour Party LECs.

What has been outlined in the stories is nothing short of sexual assault. What has been outlined as the party’s process in addressing this assault is nothing short of enabling.

It has been claimed that this letter is a ‘false flag’, part of a conspiracy and attempts have been made to discredit it at The Standard.

Stuff: Complaints about Labour Party staffer taken to his employer

Two of the complainants in an investigation into assault, bullying and harassment by a Labour Party staffer have taken their concerns directly to the man’s employer.

The man, who Stuff cannot name for legal reasons, works in the Labour Leader’s Office, but is a public servant employed by Parliamentary Service.

A 19-year-old woman, who alleges sexual assault, and a young man, who has accused the staffer of throwing a punch at him, wrote to Parliamentary Service boss Rafael Gonzalez-Montero on Tuesday.

But Gonzelez-Montero says his hands are tied because the accusations do not relate to the man’s employment. Neither of the complainants work at Parliament.

It’s hard to understand why this can be deemed not an employment matter.

The man has not been stood down. But he agreed to work from home after allegations surfaced about his conduct in early August.

The issue has a direct effect on the man’s employment.

It is also hard to understand why Ardern is allowing this man to continue to work for her office in the current situation. It could drag her and her Government down.

HDPA (Newstalk ZB): We must question PM’s honesty over Labour sexual assault allegations:

This is what we want to ask her: When did she know that the allegations against a staffer in her office were of an alleged sex crime?

She told media yesterday: ”I was informed in the very beginning that the allegations made were not sexual.”

She told RNZ this morning that she found out yesterday.

“The first I’ve seen the complaints of that nature was when I read then.” Asked when that was, she said “When I saw them in the Spinoff.”

That is very hard to believe. This has been reported in the media for the last five weeks.

If you believe that yesterday was the first the Prime Minister heard of this, then you must believe that the Prime Minister of this country does not watch, read or listen to the news reported in this country.

That she for the last five weeks has missed every bulletin, newspaper and programme that mentioned the fact this guy is alleged to have committed a sexual crime.

Like this on Newshub: “The Labour Party has been forced to review its own investigation into bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault by a Labour staffer.”

Or this: “Two more of the seven people who laid complaints about bullying, sexual harassment and assault by a Labour staffer have told Newshub about their experience of the department’s internal investigation.”

You have to also believe that the Prime Minister didn’t ask what allegation was so serious that a staffer in her office stopped coming to work five weeks ago.

You also have to square it with this comment she made yesterday in her press conference”:

“A month ago I visited New Zealand [Labour Party] Council. Very seriously shared my view that they were not the appropriate place to undertake inquiries around concerning behaviour of members of the Labour Party. But particularly they are not the appropriate place to ever undertake an investigation into a sexual assault. And that would be their view too.”

Why would she say to the Labour Party council that they were not the right people to investigate an alleged sex crime, if she didn’t know the allegations were of a sex crime?

Because she did. She did know.

On the 6th of August, one day after the story broke in the media, Mike Hosking raised it with her right here on this station.

He asked her: “How many people have quit your party as a result of this investigation into this bloke who may or may not have sexual assaulted someone?”

Her response was: “I’m going to be very careful answering that question Mike because this is an inquiry and work is still underway and it is still a party matter.”

Exactly when the Prime Minister knew is important for a bunch of reasons.

Did she fail in her duty of care to staffers and volunteers?  Was this supposed to be covered up? But mostly it’s important because this is now about her integrity

It’s becoming increasingly hard to believe her version of events, and possibly this is the first time that we’ve had reason to question Jacinda Ardern’s honesty.

This is not just Ardern’s honesty and credibility at stake. Labour’s chances in the next election may be severely compromised by this.

It has been claimed that the man facing the allegations is seen by Labour as an important part of their campaign team. He may be more toxic than helpful. It’s hard to understand why Ardern can’t see this. Perhaps she is (or has been)too close to the accused person.

Grant Robertson also seems to be involved in this, and may have been trying to distance Ardern from the growing issue.

Newshub: Emails show Labour was sent details of sexual assault allegations against party staffer

Newshub has obtained emails that show Labour was sent details six months ago of sexual assault allegations against a party staffer.

The party continues to deny it knew the claims against the man included sexual assault, but on Tuesday the Prime Minister said the party President Nigel Haworth has to go if it’s proven he mishandled the allegations.

Newshub has been forwarded an email sent by a complainant to one the members of the Labour Party investigating panel on the day of her interview.

She wanted to be able to read off a timeline and testimony. She asked if someone could print the document before her interview which was taking place an hour later.

A document “to print sexual assault experience” was attached.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was shown the document on Tuesday morning.

She told Newshub, “You’ll understand why we will want to take away this and look at it directly.”

Labour agrees the email was sent but claims there were no documents attached. The complainant says all three members of the investigating panel were given a printed copy.

Newshub revealed in August Finance Minister Grant Robertson was aware of the investigation and some complaints, but he’s refusing to say how much he knew.

“I am not going to comment any further than what I have on that because I will be undermining the privacy,” he told Newshub.

In an interview on RNZ’s Checkpoint yesterday a man who claims to be the victim of an attempted physical assault and a physical assault indicated the accused man had family connections to the Labour Party.

Protecting him looks increasingly untenable.


And more just posted at The Spinoff: Fresh evidence emerges confirming Labour was told of sexual assault allegations on June 11

The woman who alleges sexual assault by a man currently employed by the Labour Leader’s office has expressed dismay at the response of the Labour Party president, Nigel Howarth, who yesterday issued a public statement doubling down on his position that sexual assault allegations contained in investigation published by The Spinoff were never made known to anyone involved in the Labour inquiry.

“He was like a fatherly figure to these six women, and he’s let us down,” she told The Spinoff.

Her comments come as a second email has newly emerged which shows Sarah, the pseudonym by which she is described in The Spinoff’s story, sending a written account of sexual abuse allegations to the Labour Party.

In the email, dated June 11 and sent to the three members of the investigation panel, she directs them to an attached document which contains clear reference to her allegation of being sexually assaulted by the man.

This is on top of another email, sent on the morning of her interview to the chair of the panel, requesting that attached documents be printed. He asked her to send it on to the party official who was overseeing access to Labour headquarters, which she did. According to Sarah four copies of those documents were printed and provided to the panel.

The Labour Party has told The Spinoff that no attachments were received by the investigation chair, and that no one involved in the investigation was aware that any of the people appearing before them was alleging sexual assault.

Sarah told The Spinoff yesterday she was “disappointed” by what she regarded as a “cowardly” statements on the part of the Labour Party. She maintained that her traumatic experience, as detailed Monday on The Spinoff, was first described to Labour at a meeting in October 2018 with Nigel Haworth and general secretary Dianna Lacy. She said this was reiterated to the investigating sub-committee in March 2019.

“We’ve had so many email exchanges that talk about the nature of the investigation,” she said. ““I’m incredibly saddened … Standing by a process you know is flawed, a process you know retraumatised and put further young women at risk is cowardly.”

 

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27 Comments

  1. lurcher1948

     /  11th September 2019

    The police should be knocking on Sarahs door so,put up or shut up Sarah as you are letting females down by not reporting him

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  11th September 2019

      I’m afraid its gone past the ‘put up or shut up’ phase, Lurchy. Sarah will have very little to do with the proceedings from now on in. Have you forgotten Paula Bennett is now taking care of business? That speaks volumes, as does her look and dress sense compared to the harrowing account of Jacindas demeanour so eloquently described by Gezza.

      Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  11th September 2019

    It’s not a good look for Ardern. He attempts to distance herself from these various sexual assault claim scandals lately are looking desperate & lame.

    Jacinda was on 1news last nite. God she looks dreadful. Gaunt-faced: she looked like a screaming skull, with lank, greasy-looking hair, & very wan & pasty.

    I don’t really want to start Kitty off but she desperately needs a style guide. Her dress sense is non-existent too. The overgrown teenage look ought to have worn off by now.

    Ma reckoned I was being too critical of her & that her press conference outfit yesteday was “kind of colour-co-ordinated”. I said nonsense, She looked like a bag lady with a meth habit.

    Simon seems to be letting Paula do the talking lately & to have faded into the background like an Eminence Bleu.

    Reply
    • I agree about the tangled, greasy hair; it was the same on 3 news. Only the very young can get away with this. On a woman of 40 (and a PM) it looks unprofessional. She stood hunched and grimacing and generally did herself no favours.

      Qui s’excuse, s’accuse.

      The man may or may not have done this, but Sarah should either go to the police or keep quiet, If he HAS done it, she’s letting him continue and get away with it. If he HASN’T, his career and reputation are being damaged unjustifiably.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  11th September 2019

        Her clumsy, hunched walk as if she was crossing a ploughed field in gumboots and constant grimacing, nodding and gesticulating do not make her look like someone who’s in control of herself, let alone anyone else.

        Reply
  3. Duker

     /  11th September 2019

    “It’s hard to understand why this can be deemed not an employment matter”
    The sexual assault occurred at one of those involved home during a ‘date’

    and again in the quote from HPDA
    “” Asked when that was, she[Ardern] said “When I saw them in the Spinoff.”
    That is very hard to believe. This has been reported in the media for the last five weeks.

    The Spinoff story here from 9/10/19 , says in its intro
    ” sustained sexual assault by a Labour staffer has for the first time described the harrowing events”
    It cant be broken by Spinoff 2 days ago AND be as HDPA in the media for 5 weeks
    https://thespinoff.co.nz/unsponsored/09-09-2019/a-labour-volunteer-alleged-violent-sexual-assault-by-a-senior-staffer-this-is-her-story/
    Not the first time HDPA has been shown to be a liar

    You really should check her claims PG before relying on them…ever.

    Reply
  4. lurcher1948

     /  11th September 2019

    Paula stood during question time and fired both barrels at our PM Jacinda Ardern,and managed to shoot herself in the foot.(yes no no and yes) covered the questions nicely,PM Ardern…the winner

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  11th September 2019

      Hang on neighbour. I’ll have a look. 😳

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  11th September 2019

      Btw – have you ever had a gander at Greg O’Connor during ANY debates or committee stages of bills?

      Jesus Christ. What a unadulterated dribbler. He blithers absolute bloody nonsense quite often.

      Sub par in the cerebral department I reckon.

      He’ll have to go. 😠

      Who else have they got ? Surely to heck they’ve got someone better than that in our electorate? 😳

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  11th September 2019

        A cryptic crossword clue in the Listener was ‘Birds’ looks ?.’ 7 letters.

        The answer was ganders.

        Reply
    • Corky

       /  11th September 2019

      No doubt Jacinda has been advised to grease her holster and fire on sight. She has to look and talk tough now, Lurchy….because the pollsters will be creaming to get their latest polls
      out.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  11th September 2019

        Has National planned it that way…get Bennett and her media contacts to time it all ahead of the next polling round ?
        The cafe waitress who Key harassed on multiple occasions was dragged over the coals because she had the temerity to give her story to the Daily Blog and that made it ‘political’

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  11th September 2019

          How many is ‘multiple’ ?

          It was political, the waitress’s political convictions made that obvious.

          As I remember it, she wasn’t very popular as she was inclined to harangue the customers over their choices from the menu and would bring them things that she thought were better for them. If I had been brought a piece of carrot cake today rather than the spinach and feta muffin that I asked for and black coffee instead of a latte because the waitress took it on herself to change my order, I’d have been really angry.

          Reply
        • Corky

           /  11th September 2019

          ”Has National planned it that way…get Bennett and her media contacts to time it all ahead of the next polling round ?”

          I wish I could say yes..but I doubt National can think that far ahead. I also think Simon needs to cut back on his pontifications.. He has far too little political capital to waste on what eventually will give him little political advantage. He needs to realise the public don’t need him to help them understand this issue.

          Reply
  5. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  11th September 2019

    Have a listen to what Paula Bennett revealed in General Debate:
    https://www.parliament.nz/en/watch-parliament/ondemand?itemId=208748

    Ardern and Robertson have to resign.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  11th September 2019

      I don’t like the idea that accusation = guilt. We all know that reputations and lives have been destroyed by false accusations (think Peter Ellis)

      The faffing around by Labour means that this has dragged on far too long and either the PM is shockingly ignorant and uninformed or she is being deliberately blind and deaf.

      She is way out of her depth as PM and I agree that she should resign before she makes any more stuff-ups.

      Reply
  6. Corky

     /  11th September 2019

    I wonder if I pulled Jacinda’s telephone records, what would they reveal?

    Call 1- Helen Clark.
    Call 2- Helen Clark.
    Call 3- Helen Clark.
    Call…100…Helen Clark. 😒

    Reply
  7. From Newsroom:

    At its heart, this scandal is not about the political ramifications but the very real pain that has been afflicted on those who raised their concerns with Labour and expected them to be taken seriously.

    Of course, there will and should be political consequences – but righting the wrongs that appear to have been done to the complainants is the most important outcome.

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/09/12/803723/more-answers-needed-as-labour-president-departs

    Reply

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