Staffer resigns, Labour warned two years ago about insidious culture

The Labour staffer who has been the focus of a lot of attention regarding allegations of bullying, assault and sexual assault has resigned from his job in Parliament. His lawyer put out this statement:

“I have enjoyed my time working at Parliament, but today have made the very difficult decision to resign because of the stress of the situation, and my wish not to be a distraction to the work of the Government”.

“I adamantly refute the serious allegations made against me. I co-operated fully with the initial inquiry. I am co-operating fully with the Dew inquiry that is now underway, and will continue to do so, having been assured that this process will be fair to all parties.”

There’s some careful language here, in particular “I adamantly refute the serious allegations made against me”. He hasn’t refuted all allegations, just serious ones. From what has been reported some bullying, abuse and an attempted assault at least were in front of witnesses so could be hard to argue against. The most serious allegation, of sexual assault, was in private with just him and the complainant present. He is likely to be trying to protect himself from possible legal action, and  in those situations the defence often tries to downplay the seriousness of what happened. It’s common to claim ‘consensual’, and that can be a dispute over different perceptions.

His resignation was inevitable. He had become a major political liability for Labour and Jacinda Ardern. ‘Presumed innocent until proven guilty’ is a legal tenet but doesn’t apply so much in politics.

This is likely to defuse the situation, but won’t make it go away.

Meanwhile the story continues. Alison Mau:  Labour was warned it had a major problem before summer camp scandal

Before the summer camp scandal and the latest claims, Labour was warned it had a major problem.

The Labour Council was told two years ago that there was a troubling culture of bullying, sexual harassment within the party.

A witness to the latest Labour sexual harassment investigation told the council in a late-2017 written submission that instances of sexual assault happened in the party and reporting the behaviour was extremely difficult.

The witness, a 21-year-old woman, is also a Labour Party member. The submission came before the Labour summer camp scandal.

The written submission came in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the United States and made direct reference to that.

While there was obviously no way Labour could have known what was to come, the witness said the party was warned about its culture, and should have seen the summer camp incident as proof of the need to act.

“They could have said, we’re going to deal with the wider problem we know we have, because here is a specific instance that proves it.”

The woman, who Stuff has agreed not to name, sent the submission to then-General Secretary Andrew Kirton, Haworth and Assistant General Secretary Dianna Lacy.

The submission itself describes “a troubling culture of bullying, and of sexual harassment and assault” within the Labour Party.

“Instances of sexual harassment, and of sexual assault, happen in our party. They don’t often come to light, usually because the survivor leaves the party, but also because those survivors who stay have no official means of reporting such behaviour.

“This allows abusers to continue in the party.

“Having an unpublicised, intimidating process for reporting sexual assault and harassment in our party is costing us talented members. I believe our party needs to take steps to combat this culture, and to allow a mechanism for survivors of abuse and assault to come forward.”

Stuff understands the submission was tabled at the Labour Council in November 2017.

Stuff understands it was then passed to a smaller group of high-level members of the Labour Council.

The submission’s author was later asked to give evidence to a three-person panel about her experiences with the man accused of harassing up to 12 people. The man worked for Parliamentary Service in the office of the Labour leader.

Despite repeated approaches for comment, Haworth and Lacy did not respond. Kirton declined to comment and referred questions to Labour.

After the party was warned there was the assaults at the Young Labour summer camp in early 2018, and the handling of that was badly botched.

And now it is well known (and admitted by Ardern) that the handling of multiple complaints was also badly handled, and a QC has been called in to investigate.

It is apparent that Labour has nasty entrenched culture of abuse of power, abuse and assault, both male versus female and male versus male – one man who challenged the behaviour of the staffer says he was assaulted for doing this.

This is also a wider problem in New Zealand society. The National Party had it’s own embarrassing revelations last year involving Jami-Lee Ross. Law firms have been under the spotlight.

And it is apparent from diversions and excuse making in social media, including here at Your NZ, and it has been rife at The Standard this week, that the problems still exist. Those who make excuses, point their fingers elsewhere, and attack those who publicise bad behaviour, are a part of the problem. They support and enable abusive behaviour and assaults. At it’s worst it is ‘rape culture’ and tacit support of violence.

It is obvious that Labour has a lot of work to do to clean up their party. And so do other parties and organisations.

Bullying and violence and sexual violence are huge problems in our society. It is incumbent on all of us to speak up and to stand up against it. It won’t be a quick or easy thing to sort out, but we must do much better in addressing it.

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35 Comments

  1. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  13th September 2019

    Some of those who haven’t done much to clean up a bullying/abusive culture
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/115746984/who-knew-what-and-when-on-labour-abuse-scandal

    Reply
  2. Lurcher1948

     /  13th September 2019

    Kelvin Davis was a joy to watch in the house yesterday,a smarter maori outsmarting a maori who thinks she’s smart…just saying and the right are stamping their feet in frustration,a joy to read.

    Reply
    • Patricia

       /  13th September 2019

      Kelvin Davis was a dork, outsmarted by a smarter Maori – “Kōhimuhimu means to whisper and gossip,” Shane Jones.

      Reply
    • Maggy Wassilieff

       /  13th September 2019

      Except Kelvin Davis was answering for the PM.

      So effectively our PM was making a big joke/game about the alleged assaults of young Labour workers.

      Ka pai hukehuke

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  13th September 2019

      Chur Chur, Lurchy bro. Just saying..this Labour staffer who resigned yesterday has retained the services of high powered legal council. The media has been warned not to name him. I will be stamping my feet if Simon doesn’t name him under the protection of parliamentary privilege.

      Er..how does a staffer afford top shelf legal council? Maybe by doing a deal with Labour?

      Reply
    • Tom Hunter

       /  13th September 2019

      “Even the humblest Party member is expected to be competent, industrious, and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph.

      The more I see of “Duker”‘s spin on this, the narrower those limits seem..

      Reply
    • Trevors_elbow

       /  13th September 2019

      Nice to see you support sexual assault if committed by powerful men high up in the Labour Party Lurcher… because that is the allegation which you are treating as a trivial thing which should be ignored because of your blinkered support of Labour…

      Reply
  3. Duker

     /  13th September 2019

    Who is saying these problems dont exist . As I have said before , the womans claims are believable.
    What isnt believable is Paula Bennetts claims

    Reply
    • Bennett is repeating claims of the women who have gone to her. Ardern doesn’t dispute those.

      Notably Andrea Vance has liked that tweet, and she has close knowledge of much of this story.

      Reply
    • Maggy Wassilieff

       /  13th September 2019

      What are Paula Bennett’s claims?
      Are you suggesting that the claimants didn’t go to her?

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  13th September 2019

        [Deleted claim with no evidence.] Thats her job as Deputy leader of National of course. ( and not ‘involve’ Bridges)

        Its murky about a group who claimed bullying and embarrassment at work related situations and one of those or a different woman had an assault during a date at someones house.

        Who exactly is Bennett talking about . [Deleted irrelevant diversion]

        Reply
        • “a different woman had an assault during a date at someones house”

          It hasn’t been reported as ‘a date’.

          Sarah told The Spinoff that the central incident took place during a work meeting at a private residence in early 2018.

          Early in 2018 he invited her to a private meeting at his home to prepare for an upcoming regional conference. “He said it was really important that I came,” she said. “He made it feel like it was a part of my duties.”

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

          Are you deliberately trying to fudge the details to try to reduce the apparent severity of the claims, and to cast aspersions on the complainants? That’s how it looks.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  13th September 2019

            No means no, date or not. Im just trying to distinguish this didnt happen at a labour event or parliament.

            Reply
            • It has been portrayed as nothing like a date. Suggesting it was a date suggests that something social was intended by the victim, and there has been no indication of that.

              A senior Labour Party member working for Labour in Parliament requested that Labour Party work be done at his residence, and the complainant alleges that he abused this situation to attack her sexually.

            • Duker

               /  13th September 2019

              ” She arrived around six o’clock, and sat in the lounge to watch television with the rest of the household. After the others went to bed, the pair were left alone..”
              So thats from 6 oclock to 10.30- 11Pm.?
              Thats a lot of social situation. ‘ 6 oclock ‘ -was dinner involved , some refreshments?
              Funny household of younger generation , from 6pm till late ‘just watching television’
              In the context of a sexual assault it doesnt matter if food drink and so on were involved.
              To me the woman is very believable but I think the Spinoff has edited her story, to leave out the ‘social side’ . That harrowing event for her took place in 2018.

              But back in 2017 as reported by Newshub
              “It was soon clear his interest in her was not purely political or professional, she said. On a party trip in 2017, after a night of drinking, he spent time “coming up behind me, hugging me, grabbing me”, she wrote …… He also sent Sarah screenshots of explicit private messages exchanged with another party member, seen by The Spinoff, in which the pair fantasised about having sex with her. “I would feel manly if she was on her knees,” he wrote.
              https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/09/labour-volunteer-details-alleged-sexual-assault-by-senior-staffer.html

              Previous social occasions involving the pair . Clearly sexual harassment occurred before the sexual assault as well and wasnt a ‘one off’
              So wasnt ‘inadvertent or joking around’ either.
              Clearly the guy was a pest and a creep and yet ‘a further social occasion’ occurred in 2018 where an assault later happened. That doesnt excuse it of course.

        • “Because Bennett is embellishing the claims for her own and nationals political purposes”

          Blaming the messenger isn’t going to make the obvious lying & deceit within the Labour party magically go away.

          Ardern has admitted a sexual assault claim was made and that Labour did nothing about it – hence Nigel’s offer of resignation was accepted. If anything Bennett, when approached by some of these young people Labour were trying to silence, didn’t know the true extent of the issue. If anything her going public allowed other people to come forward with their own stories of abuse including the woman that has alleged sexual assault at the perps home.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  13th September 2019

            Labour did nothing …because it was policy that sexual assault investigations be done by Police after the Youth Camp events.
            There is also believable claims by the woman she told them about sexual assault which members of the panel dont agree with them.
            “Some in the Labour council involved in the initial inquiry want to hire a forensic computer expert to prove that they did not receive the serious sexual assault allegations in email form, a person close to the situation said. That person did not want to be named.”
            https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/115773503/labour-scandal-terms-of-reference-dont-include-initial-investigation-prompting-council-stoush

            They seem pretty adamant about not getting email attachments . Some email systems are set up not to have attachments for security reasons.

            Reply
    • Trevors_elbow

       /  13th September 2019

      Shill. You are just a tribal shill. If this was your daughter being used as an object and the user then being protected from justice by powerful people how would you feel?

      Attacking Bennett for sticking up for the 12 odd complaints is very poor…. you’re shameless and lack any moral compass

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  13th September 2019

        Its not allowed here to discuss in detail Paula Bennetts moral compass….
        The victim of the assault doesnt want to go to police, so she apparently doesnt want ‘justice’ or whatever and the Party wont/cant do sexual assault investigations . thats the job for Police….or Paula. She seemed to take to the JLR expose with gusto

        Reply
        • Trevors_elbow

           /  13th September 2019

          Oh please. The complaint is petrified and went to Bennett because your grubby, over bearing, abuse supporting hypocrite party have told her to piss off and just take one for the team…. many woman dont go to the cops for well known reasons like how it takes them through the experience over and over which can break a person mentally…

          Given your former leaders position on rape and sexual assault aka Andy ‘guilty till proven innocent’ Little widely supported by your feminist wing it is frankly appalling your party has attempted to suppress these cultural issues within your party

          Your attempt to shoot the messenger, Bennett, with the normal personal attacks is not surprising

          But it’s still a diversion ….the fact is your party is sleazy to its core while your leadership ranks are incompetent and abuse enablers based on the reported incidents your team ate desperate to cover up….

          Get a life. Get some empathy and clean up your party…

          Reply
  4. I wish people wouldn’t use “refute” as a synonym for “deny”. That’s not what it means. To refute something is to demonstrate the opposite of a proposition, and one shouldn’t say it unless one has demonstrably, and ontologically done it.

    Reply
    • I’ve seen this mentioend a few times and checked it out. It has multiple meanings.

      refute
      /rɪˈfjuːt/
      verb

      refute verb
      BrE /rɪˈfjuːt/ ; NAmE /rɪˈfjuːt/
      (formal)
      Verb Forms

      ​refute something to prove that something is wrong
      synonym rebut
      to refute an argument/a theory, etc.

      ​refute something to say that something is not true or fair
      synonym deny
      She refutes any suggestion that she behaved unprofessionally.

      https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/refute?q=refute

      Reply
      • I suspect it’s become a legit synonym for deny because we’ve reached a tipping point of people using it erroneously. Regardless of that, it still sounds off to me. “A spokesman totally refuted the allegation of bias” still begs the question “how?” If the spokesman said something like “Some of my best friends are Armenians”, for example, that would be a refutation.

        Reply
        • The core meaning of refute is ‘prove a statement or theory to be wrong’, as in attempts to refute Einstein’s theory. In the second half of the 20th century a more general sense developed, meaning simply ‘deny’, as in I absolutely refute the charges made against me. Traditionalists object to this newer use as an unacceptable degradation of the language, but it is widely encountered.

          https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/refute

          I used the word because that’s what both Ardern and the staffer have used, obviously with the more recent meaning.

          Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  13th September 2019

      I agree with Blair.

      The fact that ignorant people use it wrong doesn’t change the meaning of this useful word.

      If I heard that something had been refuted, I would think that the denial had been backed up with evidence to disprove whatever the claim was.

      Reply
  5. Duker

     /  13th September 2019

    Arent you overdoing the job of finding meaning in words PG ? When as you say here they can have different meanings
    This example :
    ““I adamantly refute the serious allegations made against me”. -He hasn’t refuted all allegations, just serious ones”

    Arent they “all” serious allegations in that serious has a meaning of ‘demanding and careful consideration’ and arent frivolous. Harassment and bullying against multiple people is a serious allegations in that its all handled ( or mis handled) in a serious way . A QC involved !

    It doesnt make sense in your analysis to ‘exploit’ words different meanings to create another meaning of your own. They can , as you say about ‘refute’,, have multiple legitimate meanings.

    Reply
    • Maggy Wassilieff

       /  13th September 2019

      or in the words of Humpty-Dumpty:

      “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  13th September 2019

        ‘There’s glory for you.’

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  13th September 2019

          PG has already said that ‘refute’ has another meaning .[ Shouldnt ‘Humpty Dumpty’ be deleted for being irrelevant?]
          “I used the word [refute] because that’s what both Ardern and the staffer have used, obviously with the more recent meaning.”

          Yet some how ‘serious’ can only have one meaning and its claimed Mr X is being evasive by using it a very common way- when he isnt in the context.
          It appears ‘diversions’are being being created here to make things appear that they arent. Is there a motive for that ?

          Reply
          • Maggy Wassilieff

             /  13th September 2019

            The quote from “Through the Looking glass” is relevant, as I had already posted a comment pertaining to Kelvin Davis’ loose interpretation of “Kōhimuhimu.
            (If he meant allegations, he should have used whakapae).

            And if you knew any Maori, you might have figured out why I used the term hukehuke in my earlier post…. for it has a couple of meanings.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  13th September 2019

              A week back it was about ” I learnt German’ now its about ‘some Maori you have learnt’
              I dont know any maori at all. I have access to a good Maori dictionary ( which gives word usage in context as well) Words have many meanings according to that dictionary and my Maori friends say different iwi have different usage as well , not in the dictionary.

              Its preposterous that you should be telling a fluent maori speaker like Kelvin Davis that he ‘should have used whakapae’
              It shows your complete ignorance actually.

            • Maggy Wassilieff

               /  13th September 2019

              You do realise Te reo Māori has been an official language of NZ since 1987.

              I can use it, if I want to…

            • Duker

               /  13th September 2019

              So is NZ Sign Language .
              Stick to that !

  6. Gezza

     /  13th September 2019

    What with National having their own dodgy whitewash looking enquiry into similar claims, & both – useless – leaders pretending they’re Sergeant Shultz, I despair of the quality of our topmost politicians these days. 😕

    And it’s not just here. Watching Aljaz tv frequently like I do you can see that all around the world a bunch of absolute tossers & ratbags have got into power & haven’t a bloody clue beyond pitching to the lowest common demoninator & identifying their opponents or media critics as “enemies of the state”.

    Bring out out the tumbrils. ⚰

    We need to flush & start again. 🚽

    Reply

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