Labour staffer ‘sexual assault’ report

As some predicted the report into the accusations against a Labour staffer who worked in Parliament has been released just prior to Christmas.

And predictably the outcome has dismayed some people, particularly the complainants.

Concern has been expressed over the welfare of some of the complainants, with reports that a mental health crisis assess team was called for one complainant, and another had been treated in hospital.

RNZ: Sexual assault allegations against ex-Labour staffer ‘not established’

The inquiry into the allegations of sexual assault made by one Labour member against another has cast major doubts over the accuracy of the chief complainant’s story.

Labour released the executive summary of the report – conducted by independent lawyer Maria Dew QC – this afternoon.

It found “insufficient evidence” to back up the most serious allegations and ruled critical elements of the complainant’s version of events were incorrect.

It also said the complainant had since admitted providing “misleading information” to the investigation.

The man at the centre of the sexual assault allegations said the report came after a “thorough investigation” and a fair and transparent process.

RNZ has not named the man, but in a media statement through his lawyer, he said he had answered all questions and provided all of the information, asked of him.

He says the report backs up his repeated denials of serious sexual assault, finding no evidence to substantiate the claims.

The allegations had taken a toll on him and family, he said, and he thanked those who had supported him.

The complainant had given media a screenshot of an email and an attached document which she said she had sent to the Labour Party outlining her complaints of sexual assault.

Ms Dew concluded, on the balance of probabilities, that document was not attached.

The report also rejected the complainant’s claim that she had outlined her complaint in person to Labour’s investigation panel, saying that was “improbable” when assessed against the weight of other witness evidence.

RNZ includes a copy of the Executive Summary of the report.

Similar from Newsroom: Labour: report finds no sexual assaults, harassment

The Spinoff – ‘Worst nightmare’: Labour staffer complainants respond to Dew report

Complainants involved in the Labour Party inquiry into the conduct of a party staffer say they are “angry” and “disappointed” following the release of a report into their allegations. The Spinoff has spoken to some of the former Labour volunteers since the release of a summary of findings by Maria Dew QC into allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying by a Labour staffer. Despite hearing from five complainants, Dew found that almost all the allegations were “not established”.

Citing the confidentiality agreement that all complainants and the respondent were required to sign, the woman who alleged sexual assault said she could not address the details of the report. She did, however, say that she had only received a full version of the report this morning, and stressed that she stood by her account as shared with The Spinoff. She said she also wished to acknowledge the “huge plethora of women who aren’t able to prove sexual assaults”.

“This isn’t the result that we wanted and we are disappointed,” another complainant involved in the process said. “I still believe all the complainants and their stories and am proud of the work that they did in coming forward.” Another described experience as a whole as amounting to “the worst nightmare” for anyone considering speaking up about sexual violence. “I just feel shattered.”

Newshub – Labour Party sexual assault investigation: Complainants distressed claims not upheld

Complainants have told Newshub how distressing the report is and say they asked for more time before the investigation findings were released on Wednesday.

The report also found while the staffer’s other actions didn’t amount to unlawful bullying, the staffer had accepted his conduct was at times overbearing and aggressive, and that he had made three comments of a sexual nature.

But he denied the more serious allegations.

“We are not here to seek blame or seek malice,” Ardern said on Wednesday. “We are here to try and restore a process that should have been in place in the first place.”

Labour Party president Claire Szabo said she “would like to acknowledge the discomfort and distress that these matters have caused a number of our people”.

One complainant told Newshub the report has caused significant distress to some of the complainants and that’s been communicated to the party.

They’re worried significantly for the welfare of some of the complainants and had to call a mental health crisis assess team for one complainant, while another had been treated in hospital.

Newshub informed the Prime Minister that complainants are distressed that the investigation’s findings have been released.

She replied: “None of this should have been dealt with in this way.”

Alison Mau (Stuff): Labour sexual harassment complainants ‘told PM of suicide risk’ from report’s release

The prime minister’s office was warned the release of the Maria Dew report into sexual harassment by a former Labour Party staffer posed an immediate suicide risk to some of the complainants, one of the group claims.

Stuff understands a sexual assault counsellor told the office on Wednesday that at least two of the young people who participated in the review were at risk of harming themselves, and should be given more time to look at the report before it was released publicly.

A spokesperson for the prime minister confirmed “mental health” issues had been discussed with a support professional on Wednesday afternoon, but maintained the issue raised was not more time needed, but the release of any information at all.

He said Labour had been clear from the start that “some form of summary” would be made public.

He said the report’s release was intended to avoid the results being “played out” in the media.

“We understood that there were concerns, but we also ensured there was adequate support in place.”

The complainant said she was first alerted to the report’s imminent release in an email from a solicitor at 7.30pm on Tuesday. The email included a draft press release timed for 12 noon on Wednesday.

She said she and others in the survivor group asked the solicitor to go back to Labour and plead for more time. “We didn’t have enough notice,” the woman told Stuff.

Through tears, the woman said she was frantically worried about one of the other complainants, who had “gone AWOL” and had not been in contact with anyone since reading the report.

The woman said she had been told that any release process would be done with full collaboration with the complainant group.

“They haven’t done that. They have said this is what we are going to say, and they’ve gone ahead and done it anyway.

“The rationale was that they wanted the party not to be asked too many questions. We needed more time and they ignored it.”

So again Labour’s handling of this issue is being questioned.

The prime minister’s spokesperson confirmed to Stuff that all complainants, witnesses, and the alleged perpetrator had been asked to sign confidentiality agreements both at the beginning of the process as a condition of their participation, and again before being allowed to read the report on Wednesday.

He said these were not Non-Disclosure Agreements that would prevent complainants from sharing their thoughts about the report or the process.

“It was done to ensure that personal details didn’t enter the public domain. The requests around confidentiality primarily came from the complainants,” he said.

Complainants were asked to sign confidentiality agreements to ensure they didn’t put their details into the public domain? That seems odd.

The report had been delayed. Labour may have wanted this issue dealt with and closed off before the end of the year, but this timing would always be viewed cynically.

And it looks like the issue has not been closed off effectively.

Leave a comment

20 Comments

  1. NOEL

     /  19th December 2019

    “It was done to ensure that personal details didn’t enter the public domain. The requests around confidentiality primarily came from the complainants,” he said. ”

    Appears more reasonable than odd.

    Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  19th December 2019

    To claim a ‘Corky’….I said long ago this would come to nothing,that it was a political ‘beatup’…and trying to squeeze juice out of this orange would not be productive.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  19th December 2019

      I don’t claim..I predict. I believe in putting up..or shutting up.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  19th December 2019

        You predict after the event, or claim to have done so.

        I disagree with Blazer’s interpretation, but at least he said so before the investigation.

        Reply
  3. Duker

     /  19th December 2019

    Yet again The Spinoff – as predicted- spins its shabby story in the ;’victims favour’
    “the woman who alleged sexual assault said she could not address the details of the report. She did, however, say that she had only received a full version of the report this morning, and stressed that she stood by her account as shared with The Spinoff. ”

    Thats funny when she had Paula crowing her story with full media publicity, she ‘wanted the truth out there’
    Now it is out there and based on vast trove of texting and facebook conversations it finds she isnt fully truthful.
    Now she ‘wont address the details’ and using journos lingo ‘ she stood by her account as shared in Spinoff’
    Atrocious that Spinoff lets her get away with her deceits and their coverup of her existing relationship

    Reply
    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  19th December 2019

      Still victim shaming I see Duker…. your chest must swell with pride back your party no matter what

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  19th December 2019

        You clearly havent read any background where her account is trashed and she even mislead both the Labour review committee and the QC. Facebook and text messages are saved remember and they told a different story in her own words than the fictionalized story written by Spinoff

        Reply
  4. Duker

     /  19th December 2019

    This had me concerned
    “[Labour] had a choice to delay it but they wanted to drag us all through the mud instead,” one complainant told The Spinoff. [ this was one of the other volunteers who complained of bullying and went to Paula to drag the Labour party and this person through the mud]

    Pot meet kettle

    Reply
  5. Gezza

     /  19th December 2019

    I haven’t been paying much attention to this scandal. I even only read the original Spinoff article when Duker posted it yesterday.

    There seemed little point in bothering to form an opinion on it when it was all sensational claim & counter-claim & few real details & no cross-examination of witnesses.

    It seemed best to await the results of the Dew Report & see what came out of that.

    What’s come out of that is Maria Dew’s summary & conclusions. Not much detail. No idea of who everyone interviewed was & what they said & exactly how Ms Dew QC weighed & balanced the witness & any other evidence. No forensics. And no idea of what the Terms of Reference were & under what circumstances the accused & the complainants agreed to them & their being withheld. I find the withholding of the Terms of Reference odd, notwithstanding the explanation given that it was at the request of the complainants & the alleged offender.

    Maria Dew is not a judge. Relevant evidence has been suppressed. And we are not a jury which has heard & seen everything in a trial.

    It’s quite bizarre that the young woman complaining that she was raped in the home of someone she was alledgedly in a relationship with would even think that an internal Labour Party investigation was the appropriate way to have that allegation investigated & the alleged perpetrator bought to justice.

    The picture painted in this report summary is of a vindictive attack by a young woman angry at a former lover who has manufactured an improbable story that doesn’t accord with her facebook & other communications with her alleged attacker – but we don’t know exactly what those conversations were nor her explanation for them.

    On the other matters it seems to me the report deals reasonably fairly & objectively with someone with a high opinion of himself who sometimes behaved obnoxiously & overbearingly towards other younger Labour Youth Party members, including some sexual remarks reportedly dealt with at the time by the young women offended by them and which were said to be never repeated.

    It’s definitely been a political beat up but it’s quite possibly not over yet because there’s so much detail we (or a properly constituted & directed jury) don’t know, as noted above. The mental harm / crisis team claims now made following the release of the summary only may yet play out a little further.

    It’s all just very, very messy & sordid & scurrilous, with a hint of angry & hurt girls supporting each other regardless. I have some sympathy with the Labour Party for struggling with how the heck to try & investigate this, & with Jacinda & Claire Szabo, who have at least fronted to the media & looked and sounded genuinely abashed about the mess it all became.

    At least with the Labour Youth Camp offender allegations the matter went to a proper trial.

    Reply
    • NOEL

       /  19th December 2019

      Good analysis Geeza. It’s going to be surrounded by claims of convenient release timing of her report, and it was beat up. Don’t foresee more in-depth analysis by some here.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  19th December 2019

        So you long for the days when National would announce 9c +GST petrol tax increases in the last week before Xmas because it was ‘convenient’
        And Key in his heyday would have leaked any report to his favoured journos that would have shown his govt in a good life( hes still at it with the storys of ‘his life’ after Air NZ- in reality hes out because he was blocked from getting the Chairmans role by the new government)

        Reply
    • duperez

       /  19th December 2019

      “The picture painted in this report summary is of a vindictive attack by a young woman angry at a former lover who has manufactured an improbable story that doesn’t accord with her facebook & other communications with her alleged attacker – but we don’t know exactly what those conversations were nor her explanation for them.”

      Yes, let’s have it all out there – that’ll be good for a few laughs. We’ll all know exactly what it was all about, be assured about the forensics, the details. And imagine the clicks and column inches about the victimisation of the already victim and the right to privacy!

      With that maybe there’ll even be an in for Paula Bennett to jump aboard. I mean wasn’t she there at the start, the Mother of the Nation, so concerned? Must be a vote or two in it to be squeezed or squelched.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  19th December 2019

        Bennett was in with a different Labour group who complained of bullying & ‘harassment’ by the same male, not the young woman who complained of a sexual assault ( it wasnt a complaint of rape).
        Its seems that the bullying was really him being a bossy blowhard.

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  19th December 2019

          Ah, the old Maggie Barry syndrome!🙂

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  19th December 2019

            yes. Its got to be ‘repeated and damaging psychologically’ – thats a good definition to keep in mind.
            So ‘sledging’ isnt counted

            Reply
  6. duperez

     /  19th December 2019

    Of course it hasn’t been closed off effectively because that is an impossibility.

    Nothing is released bar a perfunctory ‘nothing to see here’ or ‘an investigation has found there is nothing of substance,’ or whatever, and the world would crazy with the ‘what are they hiding?’ and ‘cover-up.’

    Reading in some places I get the feeling that the aggrieved about the report are really disappointed there wasn’t a serious sexual assault. By their reaction and views, someone being sacrificed to further their political ill-will would be preferable to the findings of the investigation.

    I heard some of the comments on radio about the welfare of some of the complainants and the expression ‘mental health crisis’ being chucked around. I see here the “the worst nightmare” for anyone considering speaking up about sexual violence.”

    Fodder for media in 2019. A week ago Winston Peters uttered his words about the importance of the media, the necessary role they play in our world and the good work they can do.

    An instance like this one, emotion packed and political, presents a simple exercise and test for the media.

    A ‘mental health crisis?’ Who, when? When an individual is attacked with the likelihood their career and life would be ruined by claims unable to be substantiated? After exoneration and because of that? Or before causing the event? Good old media, into that angle boots and all.

    As it stands that while the report has exonerated a man, some of the media is at least going to get him for causing a ‘mental health crisis’ and portray him in that light. Bash him for causing what may have caused him to be in the situation?

    Any chance one organ will address the ramifications of the statement ‘the worst nightmare’ for anyone considering speaking up about sexual violence illustrated in this context?

    I won’t debate that the worst nightmare for anyone speaking up about sexual violence after they have been a victim is a guilty party getting away with it.

    There is another worst nightmare when someone speaks up about sexual violence. That’s when you’re the accused and the allegations are fabricated. The Spinoff, (I don’t know who they are or who writes their stuff) plays the ‘worst nightmare’ as its big grabber. Their bit on here ends with “I just feel shattered.”

    Undoubtedly the Spinoff sees their cause as noble – supporting victims, in this case a young woman and her friends. If The Spinoff rode their high horses to Specsavers they might just see that the ‘worst nightmare’ and the feeling ‘shattered’ might apply to someone accused and apparently cleared.

    If he were their son, brother or spouse how fast and hard do you reckon they’d ride?

    Reply
  7. Gezza

     /  19th December 2019

    I don’t know whether he is innocent or guilty, so I am presuming innocent until proven guilty. But this report isn’t a trial summary. If the young lady wants a trial she has to take it to the police.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  19th December 2019

      That was the thing that raised doubts in my mind. It seemed as if she was trying to have him pronounced guilty without the formality of a trial.

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  19th December 2019

        She wouldn’t have had that on her own. All she had to mention was ‘assaulted’ and “Labour Party man’ and he was guilty. Trial? Who needs one of those?

        Reply

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