Ardern didn’t refute all of Bennett’s claims

Jacinda Ardern sounded like she refuted claims made by Paula Bennett in Parliament on Wednesday, but she only refuted “some of those allegations” – which of course could mean that some of what Bennett said was true or close to the mark.

Stuff ran an inaccurate headline: PM Jacinda Ardern ‘absolutely refutes’ National’s claims

That’s incorrect.

And the article reinforced the misrepresentation of Ardern’s words.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is adamant she was never told about allegations of sexual assault until Monday and “absolutely refuted” claims made by the Opposition that her senior staff and Finance Minister Grant Robertson knew months ago.

National Deputy Leader Paula Bennett claimed in Parliament that Robertson and Ardern’s former chief of staff Mike Munro, chief press secretary Andrew Campbell and director of her leader’s office, Rob Salmond, knew about the allegations of a sexual assault by a Labour Party staffer – and therefore could not believe that Ardern had not been told.

But:

When asked about the claims, Ardern said: “Some of those allegations that I’ve heard I just absolutely refute”.

She only refuted “some of those allegations” and wasn’t specific which ones. That leaves open the possibility –  that some or most of Bennett’s allegations were correct.

And she has refused to refute or challenge or deny specific questions.

NZ Herald: Labour staffer at centre of sexual assault allegations resigns

Some of the complainants were also angered that he had been present a party events, though Finance Minister Grant Robertson has said that people’s safety had always been given the highest priority.

The staffer’s resignation is likely to be welcomed to the complainants, who said that Haworth’s resignation was a step forward but the issue of safety remained.

“We must also not forget that there is still a person facing these serious allegations in the Party, and we need to take immediate action to ensure that no more people can be harmed,” a representative of the complainants said following Haworth’s resignation.

Earlier today, Ardern would not be drawn on whether Finance Minister Grant Robertson had talked to her about sexual assault claims.

Robertson has also refused to say when he was told about sexual assault claims.

I would expect that if Robertson wasn’t told about the sexual assault claims both Robertson and Ardern would have made that clear.

NZ City: Grant Robertson says he sought assurances from the Labour Party after concerns were raised with him

But the Finance Minister won’t say whether those were sexual assault allegations against a staffer.

National’s deputy leader Paula Bennett claims Robertson – and three of the Prime Minister’s senior staff – had known about those for some time.

Robertson says he checked that issues were dealt with appropriately – but won’t confirm or deny Bennett’s claims.

Newstalk ZB: National: PM’s senior staff knew about sexual assault complaints for months

Bennett said the complainants claimed that Grant Robertson knew about the sexual assault claim and had “deep alliances” to the Labour staffer.

Robertson has not commented on what he knew, saying he wanted to respect the privacy of the complainants.

“I’m comfortable with what I’ve done in this process,” he told reporters today.

“There is a process underway with a QC where the voices of these people need to be heard. I have to respect that process.”

This has little if anything to do with respecting privacy and respecting a process being run by the Labour Party (it is not a judicial inquiry). It sounds like an excuse not to front up and be open and honest.

Back to something from the NZH article: “Grant Robertson has said that people’s safety had always been given the highest priority.”

Why would ‘the people’s safety” been given “the highest priority” at party events attended by the accused staffer and by complainants, unless it was known the staffer was facing serious allegations?

Andrea Vance:  How to make the Labour abuse scandal worse

It has been claimed that concerns were raised with Finance Minister Grant Robertson, by one of the complainants, at an event on June 30. He has not responded to questions on this.

By July 12, the complainants had lost patience, decided to go public and sent an anonymous email to several media outlets.

Just over 10 days later, general secretary Andre Anderson wrote to the complainants.

“The email to the media has had the unfortunate effect of increasing the number of people who know something about these matters, which is undermining confidentiality.  I think it would be reasonable for you to assume that the content of the email has been circulated to a number of people,” he wrote.

“I’m aware that at least one of you has been approached by one or more MPs.  But they may only know one of you and the content of the email, rather than all of you.”

He then listed “the people who I either know are aware or I’ve been told are aware”. This included Robertson, though Anderson wrote: “I don’t know how much Grant was told.”

He says that he, or Haworth, knew the following people had been told: Ardern; her former chief of staff Mike Munro; new chief of staff Raj Nahna​; chief press secretary Andrew Campbell;  and the party’s solicitor Hayden Wilson. “These people only know the basics, including [the man’s] identity, but we haven’t told them who you are,” Anderson wrote.

He then says the man, or a member of his family, had told him four other people knew. These included the man’s lawyer Geoff Davenport and E tū senior national industrial officer Paul Tolich, who also sits on the NZ Council. Wellington city councillor Fleur Fitzsimons, and Beth Houston, who works for Cabinet minister Phil Twyford were also listed – both are on the council. “I don’t know the extent of their knowledge,” Anderson said.

MPs Kiritapu Allen and Paul Eagle are also mentioned: “I don’t know the extent of their knowledge,” Anderson said. Eagle has since denied he was in the loop.

The first news reports began to appear in early August, and almost all refer to bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault. On August 6, Ardern spoke to reporters at Parliament and said the party would begin a review.

When asked if Labour had a culture problem, she said she couldn’t ignore the fact that complaints had been made.

Ardern has maintained she did not know complaints of serious sexual assault were reported to the party until this week.

“Monday was the first time that I saw details that a complainant had stated that they’d been sexually assaulted and that they’d taken a complaint to the Labour Party. That was the first time,” Ardern said at a press conference on Thursday.

She said when media reports first surfaced, five weeks ago, she “sought assurances” from the party and was told “no complainant had come to them and claimed to them they’d been sexually assaulted”.

She seems to have changed her language now from whether she knew there were sexual allegations to claiming she was told “no complainant had come to them and claimed to them they’d been sexually assaulted”. That leaves a lot of possibilities not refuted or denied.

Ardern still appears to have a problem here, as does Robertson.

Leave a comment

41 Comments

  1. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  13th September 2019

    if Ardern’s ignorance of events was so total, she should be in with guns blazing cleaning out the Labour rot.
    But she isn’t, she is ducking and diving and letting others walk the plank.
    It is as Matthew Hooton posits: Ardern is a flake; she has no substance; she is a moral midget.
    Matthew Hooton: Nothing behind Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s words
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12267234

    Reply
    • She either has to look incompetent and uninformed or incompetent despite being informed.

      I would also be wanting the police brought in to clear the thing up one way or other. Making allegations but refusing to let anything be done is not acceptable.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  13th September 2019

        The complainant has specifically NOT wanted the police involved ( on sexual assault part). [As far as is publicly known (as far as I’m aware)]

        [Deleted a reprehensible assertion for which there is no evidence or indication.]

        Do try to keep up

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th September 2019

          I am aware of that and have been since the beginning, but then why make the allegations ? This way the person accused can do nothing about a serious crime that they are alleged to have committed. This was rape.If it really happened, she is enabling the rapist to carry on. If it didn’t, she has committed slander.

          If it was anything less serious than rape, there might be a case for not going to the police. I was thumped in the street by someone who was obviously not all there, and did nothing because I saw no point in spending time in a police station and court; I wasn’t injured, just hurt (it was a hard thump) . Had they beaten me up it would have been different.

          Reply
        • Duker

           /  13th September 2019

          I do have a link from TVNZ to the [deleted material]. Its all true about Bennetts legal letters- not reprehensible and invalid . But its your blog to chose what you want to appear in it.

          However yesterday this was one of the verbatim comments added from Bennett it was some previous time back related to Ardern at UN and not ‘directly’ about the bullying/assault separate claims.
          “Hon Paula Bennett: Will she be revising her statement made to the UN less than a year ago that “#MeToo must become we too. We are all in this together.”

          Somewho this is connected to what people in the party have or have dont have done about bullying and a separate sexual assault ?
          https://yournz.org/2019/09/11/paula-bennett-speech-on-pms-office-involvement-in-assault-claims/
          My problem with Bennett is that she is mixing up the ‘investigated’ bullying harassment involving 7+ people and the un investigated sexual assault in her questions about who knew what at what time.
          Its done to trip up Ardern for politics and NOT to provide support to the assaulted young woman..

          Reply
    • Them’s my sentiments.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  13th September 2019

        Four people haven’t read Vanity Fair, one of the greatest books in the English language.

        Reply
  2. Strong For Life

     /  13th September 2019

    As usual most mainstream media is running interference for Ardern. Disgrace!

    Reply
  3. Duker

     /  13th September 2019

    “The first news reports began to appear in early August, and almost all refer to bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault. ”
    This was only days ago . Aug 9. Not months
    The stories months back were bullying , sexual harassment. But no indication of the severity.

    To claim she was changing her language , Duh . Every time you speak the words are going to substantially the same but not identical .

    [Deleted another diversion to unrelated historical event. PG]

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  13th September 2019

      Someone may not use the identical words, but the words should say the same thing.

      ‘I live in a city.’ isn’t identical to ‘I am a city dweller.’ but it means the same.

      Reply
  4. If true it could be for health reasons but surely he would’ve timed it beyond the current disaster so the association wasn’t there. More likely leaving as named by Bennett as knowing about sexual assault claims and doing nothing about it. The net is closing in on Ardern.

    Reply
  5. And meanwhile Labour are furiously scrubbing someone out of their various Twitter and Facebook pages. Even Labour Wikiapedia has had to have a makeover.

    Reply
    • NOEL

       /  13th September 2019

      If it is correct that someone has “lawyer up ” and name suppression is been applied for should we be surprised..

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  13th September 2019

        Only courts can supply name suppression. The complainant does not want police involvement, so you are making it up – thats no surprise

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th September 2019

          Noel said ‘applied for’.

          The complainant is irresponsible if she won’t involve the police, and this weakens her case in my opinion.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  13th September 2019

            Applied to whom. Its total nonsense that Noel is made up and it should be said so.
            “complainant is irresponsible if she won’t involve the police, and this weakens her case in my opinion.”

            No it doesnt. Its her choice and doesnt affect her credibility at all as the Police process can be very harmful.

            The problem however is that Labour party has said after the Summer Camp incident it shouldnt be investigating sexual assaults. Her complaint ( of the sexual assault) to the Party hierarchy came after that.

            She doesnt want the Police to Investigate ( for good reasons) . The Labour party doesnt want to Investigate sexual assaults instead of the Police ( nor should they)

            This is at the heart of the problem. She wants closure from the party – what ever that may mean for her.
            They cant do that and in effect never could .

            But the Political Theatre has moved on and some are using it for political motives – as Bennett is doing so.

            Reply
            • I’ve not seen anything about wanting ‘closure’, whatever that may be – it’s a fairly meaningless term.

              From what I’ve seen they (there are a number of people claiming to be victims, up to 12 of them) want the Labour Party to tidy up what is said to be a toxic culture where abuse, bullying and people in positions of power sexually preying on young party members.

              They also seem to have wanted Ardern to live up to her PR as a caring PM who promotes women’s rights and wellbeing, but it will take major action now from Ardern to repair the damage she has done to her image.

              They don’t want closure, they want openness, transparency, actual caring for party members and everyone rather than the lipstick on a chauvinist pig of a party that exists now.

            • Duker

               /  13th September 2019

              The workplace bullying and harassment claims ( by up to 12 people ?) have been dealt with or are under review by a QC. The sexual assault claim which ‘they couldnt investigate’ has been included recently
              Clearly the sexual assault hasnt been resolved to her satisfaction or closure – why going to Paula Bennett would do so isnt apparent. Thats seems to a political motives not seeking ‘caring’

              Are you being serious about this claim or are you making political hay without evidence ?
              ‘actual caring for party members and everyone rather than the lipstick on a chauvinist pig of a party that exists now.”

              You know what Ardern has to go through from labour opponents thats totally chauvinist and that lip stick on a pig was part of that.

            • The bullying, harassment and assault claims are not currently under review. The Labour council hasn’t decided the terms of reference. There’s been a leak of a draft, and some of the council want the ‘review’ to be confined to proving that no one (in a position of power) in the inquiry process did anything wrong, and nothing more – which is contrary to assurances given publicly by Ardern yesterday.

              This has led to a stoush within the party over whether to approve the terms of reference, as some in the party want to prove that they handled the initial complaints appropriately, Stuff understands.

              People in the council want to decide terms of reference for the inquiry to clear themselves. It was touted as an independent inquiry.

              https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/115773503/labour-scandal-terms-of-reference-dont-include-initial-investigation-prompting-council-stoush

              Obviously some in the council are opposed to this, at least one concerned enough to leak the draft terms of reference.

              It sounds like Labour are not close to addressing the primary issues and trying to recover from a disaster. There’s no carpet secure enough for the sweeping.

            • Duker

               /  13th September 2019

              ‘”The bullying, harassment and assault claims are not currently under review. ” doesnt match what it says here from Stuff…
              “The speculation she is referring to is likely to relate to an August 5 story by Newshub, which reported the Labour Party had been forced to review an internal investigation into bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault by a Labour staffer.”
              Had been ‘forced to review an internal investigation” means what in your mind ?
              Are you claiming there isnt a QC led review at all?
              This NZME Herald story says
              ‘Haworth’s job is on the line over his handling of seven formal complaints about the staffer whom the party investigated earlier this year.

              The party’s investigating panel decided in July that no disciplinary action was needed, but then asked party solicitor Hayden Wilson, of Kensington Swan, to review the investigation process.

              Maria Dew QC has now been brought in to review not only the process but also the complaints themselves, following complainants’ concerns that allegations of sexual assault were ignored and that the process was botched and unfair.”

              Panel investigated 7 ‘formal complaints’ and asked for Hayden Wilson to ‘review’ the process. [From the later context the sexual assault wasnt included] Maria Dew to make a further review

              This link from RNZ says the QC is “now” reviewing-
              https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/398654/staffer-at-centre-of-the-labour-party-abuse-allegations-resigns
              this was yesterday

              Its not been reported as far as I can find that ‘a draft has been leaked ‘ as you claim. Is someone providing inside information to you or is there a link ?

  6. lurcher1948

     /  13th September 2019

    It seems to me that Sean Plunkett and bomber and co are brighter than the host and the witch hunt righties on this blog-sorry PG if my 19n yo daughter was raped ,down to police station straightaway,not on spinoff describing sex positions AND NOT GOING TO SEE paula
    PG balance please not rightwing loons wanting a pitchfork party,balance is democracy…but not here
    .
    .
    .we will see

    Reply
    • Maggy Wassilieff

       /  13th September 2019

      Fair enough..

      but what if your 19 year-old daughter didn’t tell you that she had been raped?

      What if she begged you not to make a fuss about it as it would ruin her employment prospects?

      (it’s possible the alleged victim doesn’t have a father/ trusted adult in her life)

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  13th September 2019

        What rape ? It was said to be a sexual assault. Do you know the difference . Should be deleted as its inflammatory and or made up rubbish. But it wont

        Reply
        • Maggy Wassilieff

           /  13th September 2019

          I was replying to Lurcher1948 who wrote sorry PG if my 19n yo daughter was raped ,.

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th September 2019

          Rape doesn’t have to be done with a penis to be considered to be rape in law, as I understand it. Graham Capill said that he wasn’t guilty of rape because he only used a finger to penetrate an 11 year old girl. But the law disagreed.

          Reply
    • Corky

       /  13th September 2019

      Easy, now..easy. My suggestion Lurchy is stop trying to suck another blog owner in. And stop spreading false information across the blogosphere for another cheap thrill.

      Instead I want you to concentrate on life after Labour. The hard years ahead under Tory rule.
      You truly are the Glenn Gould of this blog.

      Reply
      • lurcher1948

         /  13th September 2019

        Corky are you writing a book???,im 70 years old, who would take interest in an old fart like me,,hell PG barely tolerates me, sometimes i have a thought,causing interest

        Reply
  7. Duker

     /  13th September 2019

    He wants Hosking to investigate the labour party and report back to Paula

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  13th September 2019

      Still gonna get the girl’s votes because, hey, she’s a girl, & us girls, like, we look out for each other no matter what – except for the bitchy girls we all hate. 🙄

      Reply
    • Maggy Wassilieff

       /  13th September 2019

      Brilliant.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  13th September 2019

        Just out of interest, do you think Bridges would be any better at handling situations like this?

        I don’t.

        How the hell did NZ politics come to this?

        The leaders of these parties are bereft of policy. They’re simply ratings-driven, blithering idiots & bullshit artists.

        Reply
        • Dukeofurl

           /  13th September 2019

          I dont think I have enough fingers on my hands to count the ‘situations’ handled by the leaders of the previous government. So in answer to your question of ‘how did NZ politics come to this’ – you havent been taking any notice.. Anyway most of the rest of the world would laugh about how bad our problems really are…. heard of the Beltway analogy

          Reply

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