Statements by member of Labour panel and complainant at odds

Simon Mitchell, a lawyer and a member of the Labour Party Council, and one of the three members of the panel that investigated complaints of bullying, abusive behaviour and assaults, has put out a statement claiming to have never been advised that there had been claims of sexual assaults.

The complainant known as ‘Sarah’ has countered with a statement from her lawyer. It claims that emails included allegations of ‘rape’.  That escalates the seriousness of the allegations (from sexual assault).

Two key things are disputed:

  • Whether emails to the panel mentioned a sexual assault
  • Whether there were attachments on the emails that mentioned a sexual assault

There could be a technical explanation for the difference over attachments – it is not uncommon for mail systems to strip attachments from emails.

It is harder to explain the difference over the contents of emails, unless whole emails were not delivered by the mail systems of all three members of thee panel.

From The Spinoff: Two statements on the Labour Party inquiry

Statement of Simon Mitchell

I was part of the New Zealand Labour Party panel that was set up to investigate allegations of inappropriate conduct by one member of the Party against another.

The Panel arranged to meet with a number of individuals on 9 March.

On the morning of 9 March the complainant sent an email to me: “Hi simon, i was woundering if anyone today had printer acess? I want to be able to read off of a timeline testimoney I’ve created. Would somone be able to print this before my interview at 10.30?”

The email did not have an attachment.

I replied that she should send it to Dianna Lacy as she was opening up that morning.

The complainant sent a document to Dianna Lacy, who I am told printed a copy and gave it to the complainant.

When the complainant met with the Panel she read from a document when taking us through her concerns. She did not provide us with a copy of that document. At no point did she say that she had been sexually assaulted or tell us about the events that are described in the Spinoff article.

I have subsequently (last week) been given a copy of what the complainant sent to Dianna to print out on the morning of our interview and it does not contain any details of the sexual assault against her as described in the Spinoff article.

I met with the Complainant again on 29 May 2019 to clarify the allegations and the matters that we were investigating. At no time during that meeting did she say that she had been sexually assaulted by the subject of the complaint or disclose the events that are the subject of the Spinoff article.

At the conclusion of the meeting she said that she would provide me with more detailed information in the next few days.

On 10 June 2019 I emailed the complainant following up the documentation that she was to send.

On 11 June 2019 the complainant sent me an email with 3 attachments including what she refers to as her testimony. Neither the testimony nor the other attachments contain any reference to a sexual assault on her or disclose the events that are the subject of the Spinoff article.

On 17 June 2019, after being advised of the outcome, the complainant emailed me and the other members of the panel thanking us for our hard work.

On becoming aware of the Complainant’s allegation that she had provided me with details of the assault on her both in person and in attachments to emails sent to me on 9 March and 11 June 2019, I have had my computer system forensically examined.

There is no evidence of any attachment being sent to me on 9 March 2019.

There were three attachments to the email to me dated 11 June 2019. None of these attachments or the email itself contain any reference to a sexual assault on her or disclose the events that are the subject of the Spinoff article.

Response to Simon Mitchell’s statement

The complainant (the person called “Sarah” in the Spinoff’s article of 9 September) has records of three emails sent by her to Simon Mitchell between 9 March 2019 and 21 May 2019 in which Mr Mitchell was made aware of there being allegations of sexual assault.

These emails have been provided to Labour Party lawyers Kensington Swan, who have been requested to provide the emails to the reviewers conducting the independent review of the internal investigation.

In the earliest email, sent by the complainant on Mar 9, 2019 at 9:35 AM to Mr Mitchell, the complainant attached two documents, one outlining the sexual assault in depth (this document contained sexual assault in the file name of the document) and the other the complainant’s testimony, which also outlines allegations of sexual assault. Attached is a screenshot of this email and the attachments.

The other two emails sent by the complainant to Mr Mitchell were also sent (simultaneously by cc) to the two other members of the investigation panel as well as Labour Party President Nigel Haworth, and another NZ Council Member. These emails were as follows:

  • Email sent by the complainant on Apr 26, 2019 at 6:28 in which the complainant draws the investigation panel’s attention to the seriousness of the allegations, including the allegation of “rape”.
  • Email sent by the complainant on Tuesday, 21 May 2019 11:00 PM in which the complainant again draws the investigation panel’s attention to the seriousness of the allegations, including the allegation of “rape”.

The complainant maintains that she went into detail about the sexual assault during the 9 March interview and that Mr Mitchell was present and engaged.

The complainant is struggling to understand why Mr Mitchell would make these statements when he sat through her giving testimony of the sexual assault.

The complainant is not the only person who made allegations of a sexual nature during the internal investigation.

The complainants are hugely disappointed that Mr Mitchell has come forward with his statement just as the complainants and the Labour Party are making some positive progress.

The complainants await the outcome of the independent review of the internal investigation announced by the PM this afternoon.

Yesterday Jacinda Ardern announced that there would be two inquiries, the already initiated inquiry by Maria Dew that will only re-investigate the complaints, and another inquiry that will investigate the handling of the complaints by the Labour Party.

She also said:

“My view is that is continuing to contest this in the public domains serves nobody. I am absolutely focused here on creating an environment that is a place that complainants can be heard by a QC, not the party, where there is not that contested question over what was told.”

That was after Mitchells statement but before ‘Sarah’s’ statement.

Leave a comment

31 Comments

  1. And who is Simon Mitchell
    He is the lawyer (people paid to lie for you) who paid $5000 for a forged painting and then burnt it, to protect then Prime Minister Hellen Clark.
    He now seems to either be determined to save his own neck or keen on tipping petral on to this mess to make it last longer.
    Forensic experts proved, I don’t think so, isn’t Iprent the worlds leading expert!

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  17th September 2019

      So ‘irrelevant stuff’ from over a decade ago is OK now which borders on defamatory for a named person as well.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  17th September 2019

        Haven’t you been bringing up irrelevant matters from the past regarding National (eg Richard Worth) in desperate defence of the proposition this is all just a set up?

        More deflection from you here than in a WW2 air dogfight, seems to me. 🤔

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  17th September 2019

          Worth has nothing to do with a ‘setup’ The womans story on what happened to her is very believable. The account of the panel and what it did or didnt know not so much.

          The previous post was about ‘Party leadership’ and such.
          Someone said “I recognise the technique.”
          Back in 2009 we didnt know for sure ( but it was later proved) that the PMs office was ‘donkey deep’ in feeding stuff to Whaleoil , here that was an attack on the complainant.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  17th September 2019

            Clarification noted.

            The evidence we are seeing/hearing is plainly contradictory. But the story is now cranking up to movie proportions & the damage to Ardern & her party must be going to hurt in the present & for the foreseeable future because it’s classic shock horror media fodder.

            A manufactured crisis or spectacular announcement to try & bury it now would struggle to knock it off the front pages & leading tv news slots.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  17th September 2019

              The spectacular announcement, on 1news, was that Jacinda is leaving the country & will be getting a sit down meeting with Trump & other heads of state.

              Jess Mutch McKay, political editor, noted that this would be a welcome relief for Ms Ardern, but was unlikely to ease up the pressure back home of the disputed, bungled, sex assault fiasco.

      • I doubt if my statement is defamatory Duker but on further examination of the facts it seems Simon Mitchell didn’t burn the forged painting, he bought it for the sum mentioned, he then gave it to Ms Clark”s Electorate secretary who was Jim Anderton’s wife.
        It was then burnt!
        So evidence was destoyed.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  17th September 2019

          The idea that lawyers are paid to lie for you is totally ignorant as well as a lie in its own right.

          Any lawyer who lied in court would be charged with perjury.

          Reply
  2. Trevors_elbow

     /  17th September 2019

    Webmail for corporates routinely blocks attachments… it a virus protection thing. Mr Mitchell may not have received the document for that reason……at past on his device… the exchange/mail server will have the complete mail and attachment… though it could have been cleansed by now… I read that social media accounts gave been ‘Mr Wolf’ed already….

    Sarah’s source server is the only place which will show what was sent and even that can be doctored by someone who knows what they are doing I suspect

    Its interesting that Labour are keeping this alive and are playing attack the messenger with Sarah and Ms Bennett….. trying to discredit and deflect….

    Labour have a big problem…..sleaze and corruption waft around them… Soubrek
    … interns as almost slave labour….summer camp assaults and gropings…. shenanigans in the PMs offices…

    Oh dear ….

    Reply
  3. Emails with attachments are the primary way of filing and serving court documents.

    It isn’t clear whether emails were sent to the lawyer’s Labour email address or his work email.

    Labour’ email system should be able to handle attachments anyway, they must be commonly emailed.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  17th September 2019

      The US democratic party was infiltrated by email attachments, which triggers the virus code when they are opened.
      Attachments that are accepted are normally from those email addresses that are listed on the trusted sources file , Plus emails that come from other labour.org addresses.
      The best way these days is use Dropbox accounts , good for large files especially
      A small file like this women would be using ( text only) should have been a copy and past into the email

      Reply
      • I find it hard to believe that Labour mail servers would delete attachments without notification.

        As I said, NZ courts all accept attachments on emails – they rely on them as legal documents. I presume they have effective scanning of attachments to detect risks. Including quite large files.

        I do a lot of emailing nationally and internationally, often with attachments. I’m careful about what type of attachment. It’s rare for emails or attachments to be blocked or to disappear – that would be an impediment to doing my work.

        Do you know how small the file was? Whatever, it should have been allowed. It should be as safe to send documents as PDFs as embedded text.

        Copied and pasted formatted text can get messy in emails.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  17th September 2019

          Oh please . text only files of say less than 10 pages are SMALL.
          Many people will agree with me on blocking attachments is a security measure and no it wont necessarily tell you.
          I wouldnt call myself an expert by any means but spent many many years working on many types of computer systems so have a good idea of background.
          In this context its highly plausible that security reasons are why she was sure she sent an attachment and others are sure they didnt get them on the email.
          There are still conflicting claims apart from that one, but nothing is gained in uninformed speculation linked to how NZ courts work. ( Unrelated ?)

          Reply
          • How legal documents are filed and served as attachments is very relevant. It is accepted practice (actually required practice) in supplying submissions to judicial proceedings.

            So it should have been available and accepted practice in the inquiry proceedings, which was semi-legal with a lawyer involved in the panel, and the accused person had his lawyer acting for him.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  17th September 2019

              The labour party doesnt have the resources of the courts…the panel would be all volunteers apart from the General Secretary.
              The courts is only relevant to the courts. A employment lawyer , who is a labour volunteer, doesnt have the expertise to set up and run labours email server infrastructure, so that is even less relevant.

              What IS relevant is this
              https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/313249/labour-mp-outraged-at-blocked-emails
              He told the House that Parliamentary Service was monitoring, and in some cases blocking, emails to and from MPs based on government security classifications.

            • “A employment lawyer , who is a labour volunteer, doesnt have the expertise to set up and run labours email server infrastructure, so that is even less relevant.”

              I don’t have that expertise either, but I often request IT people with that expertise to set up mail servers to enable clients to do what they want to do with their email systems.

  4. Duker

     /  17th September 2019

    “The complainant is not the only person who made allegations of a sexual nature during the internal investigation.”
    She cant claim that at all. The internal investigation wouldnt tell her about what other claims
    have been disclosed to them
    . Others she was in contact with may have shared stories but whether they were told to the panel she wouldnt not know.
    She really should stick to her own story rather than trying to be torch bearer for others , she risks getting involved in Spinoffs story making.

    Reply
  5. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  17th September 2019

    Here’s an interesting contrast of blogs.
    Pete has put up Simon Mitchell’s statement and Sarah’s response.

    The Standard has put up a commentary on Simon Mitchell’s statement only and used it to take a massive swipe at Paula Bennett.
    https://thestandard.org.nz/an-unfortunate-rush-to-judgment-by-the-media/

    Reply

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