Ardern announces separate Party inquiry alongside QC complaints inquiry

Jacinda Ardern announced that the terms of reference for the Maria Dew inquiry into allegations made against a Labour staffer had been decided but would remain secret (at the request of complainants and the alleged offender).

And she said that Dew didn’t want to investigate the party’s handling of their own inquiry, so there would be a separate inquiry into that. terms of reference were also not disclosed.

Stuff – Labour scandal: Party to conduct two separate inquiries into sexual assault allegations

Labour will conduct a separate inquiry into its response to sexual assault allegations made against a former staffer.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the review at her post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, saying the party had failed its members.

The inquiry will sit alongside the initial inquiry by QC Maria Dew into the actual sexual assault and bullying allegations against the staffer.

Labour’s lawyers, Kensington Swan, will finish an already-begun report on the Labour response to the complaints, but this will then be handed to a separate third party lawyer to establish the facts, based solely on paper evidence.

The complainants and the party will then be able to offer comment as part of this report. Ardern said it would be released to the public if those involved were comfortable with that.

The inquiry would remain paper-based as to not subject the alleged victims to multiple interviews, Ardern said.

Asked whether her own office and senior MPs would be subject to the inquiry, Ardern said she expected anyone asked to be involved.

That doesn’t really answer the question. It depends on what and who Labour’s own lawyers check out, and what the “separate third party lawyer” chooses to investigate, or is asked to investigate.

The Prime Minister said the terms of reference for the Dew inquiry were now finalised but the complainants did not wish for them to be released to the public.

Ardern is still making it clear that she accepts that mistakes were made.

“There are no excuses for Labour’s handling of these allegations and I will offer none. Mistakes have been made. It is now my job to address that.”

A lot is riding on how well Ardern addresses that – and how well she is seen to address it. Some details will need to remain confidential, but openness and transparency are very important, or the damage of her reputation will not be undone.