Kirton resigning from Labour

Andrew Kirton moved to New Zealand two years ago to run the Labour Party as general Secretary, helped them to an election win and to negotiate a governing deal.

He ran into difficulties in handling of the Labour camp where it was alleged sexual harassment occurred. With the results of an investigation into the camp thought by some to be imminent (of course that could be coincidental), Kirton is leaving Labour.

Newsroom: Labour Party chief resigns

The Labour Party’s general secretary Andrew Kirton announced his resignation this afternoon – after the high of an election win last year and the low of allegations of sexual assault and drunkenness at a Labour Youth Camp in February.

But when Newsroom broke news of the allegations from the summer camp near Waihi, Kirton’s handling of the matter was under intense scrutiny. Labour took what it called a “victim-led” approach to the complaints and no outside investigation was sought.

Newsroom revealed Kirton’s plans at lunchtime today and he announced this afternoon he was heading to a new role as government relations executive at Air New Zealand.

Some eyebrows could be raised over the timing of the announcement, coming at a time when political and media eyes are on Ardern’s new baby at Auckland Hospital.

On the investigation:

Police have been investigating and have indicated a charge may yet be laid against the person accused of the late-night assaults on young party supporters, one as young as 16.

Labour commissioned Wellington lawyer Maria Berryman in March to investigate how it handled the affair, its general culture and any other incidents of sexual harassment or abuse within the party. She had three months to report back and her findings were not to be made public but go to key party leaders.

Berryman only recently spoke to some of the five victims of the assaults at the camp.

So it could be a while before the investigation is completed. Kirton could be gone by then.