Sexual assault claims ‘innuendo’ and ‘lies’

Winston Peters arrived back in Parliament after sick leave and immediately took to stirring up Labour’s sexual assault issue. He also tried to attack Judith Collins by association – much along the lines that have been run at The Standard.

Newshub: Winston Peters labels Labour sexual assault claims ‘innuendo’, NZ First MPs back him up

Winston Peters has wasted no time wading into the Labour Party investigation, calling the allegations “unfounded fiction”, an “orgy of speculation”, and “innuendo”.

The NZ First leader’s inflammatory comments come as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seeks to work with the complainants out of the public glare – but she won’t take her deputy to task.

“I’ve rarely seen such a disgraceful episode of unfounded allegations,” Peters said on Tuesday.

Typical irony from Peters given his history of using speculation and innuendo and allegations without producing evidence (it has often just been threatened).

He said it was “led by a woman called Paula Bennett making all sorts of vile allegations by way of innuendo without a fact to back it up”.

And New Zealand First MPs were lining up to back him up.

“If you are a victim of criminal wrongdoing, do not go to the opposition – go to the police,” Shane Jones, Regional Economic Minister, said.

Tracey Martin, Internal Affairs Minister, added: “[Winston Peters has] got a point – I haven’t seen any evidence be produced.”

So it looks like a coo-ordinated line of attack.

In Parliament yesterday Peters attempted a diversionary attack on Judith Collins was not allowed by the Speaker: 9. Question No. 9—Energy and Resources

Rt Hon Winston Peters: A supplementary question to the primary question today from the Leader of the Opposition: which member of Parliament was associated with this company?

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Speakers’ ruling 159/5 says, “It is not reasonable to use questions from the governing party or its support parties to attack other members of the House.” I think it’s clear that what the Deputy Prime Minister is doing is deliberately targeting a member of the House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

SPEAKER: I’ll hear from the Deputy Prime Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: That protest might sound meritorious were it not for the fact that the very leader of his own party raised that question during a supplementary in the first question today.

SPEAKER: Well, I’m not convinced that team-tag would make something like this appropriate. My view on this—and it’s a very strict view—is that attacks, especially on the families of members of Parliament, are generally inappropriate. I think that the question was an invitation to attack a family member of a member of this Parliament, and on that basis I’m not going to allow it to proceed.

Coincidentally (perhaps) similar lines have been run at The Standard. This post yesterday went as far as naming Collins: The strange case of Oravida and the rupturing of the Ruakaka jet fuel line:

The rumour mill went overboard at the time with suggestions that an Oravida company associated with Judith Collins was involved.

The post included an Oravido photo with Collins. This is dirty politics by association. Collins wasn’t driving the digger that ruptured the fuel line, and there’s no evidence she had anything to do with it or with the operations of the company – I think it’s extremely unlikely.

Also at The Standard yesterday, again authored by Labour stalwart MICKYSAVAGE: An unfortunate rush to judgment by the media?

Labour’s Council member Simon Mitchell, who is a very experienced and adept lawyer, has made a public statement which directly contradicts the essence of some of the allegations that have been made.

The post strongly supports Mitchell’s statement, and makes no mention of the complainant’s counter statement (it was linked in comments by someone else).

The post features an old photo of Paula Bennett with Cameron Slater, who has no link to the Labour sexual assault story. Associating Bennett here with Mr Dirty Politics is the sort of dirty politics that Slater used. SHG commented

And lprent was again throwing around warnings when comments were made that he didn’t like.

Either Mitchell is lying or this individual victim is lying. I’d be interested in hearing what the other complainants have to say. What a messy situation.

Let us not forget that Sarah is only one of twelve people who have complained.

Also, let us not forget that where sexual assault/rape/harrassment is concerned, only a fraction of the incidents ever result in complaints.

What I’m saying is, don’t fixate on what Sarah did or didn’t say to the Labour Party’s lawyer as if answering that question represents any sort of achievement.

[lprent: Lets not forget that the panel and everyone else in the Labour process have been saying that the sexual assault/rape allegations weren’t raised to them. You have just asserted that it was. That is defamatory.

Please keep trying to make me liable. I am really looking forward to kicking your snarky lying arse off the site permanently.

Second warning. ]

Ironic accusing SHG of being defamatory given the posts smearing MPs.

lprent falsely accused me of lying last week when all I was doing was quoting media reports. He has accused the media and others of lying too.

He and The Standard seem to have a similar agenda to peters and NZ First, It looks like the are doing dirty work for the Labour party establishment in a defence, and an attack on the complainants.

Disclosure: The Standard banned me on Sunday for posting media reports on this issue. The seem to be hard out trying to control the message favourable to the Labour Party establishment, with messages contrary to what Jacinda Ardern has been saying.

Credibility of Ardern, Haworth and Labour increasingly shaky over sexual assault claims

A follow up up on yesterday’s post Labour’s ongoing bungling of dealing with assaults within the party – the reputation of the Labour Party and the credibility of the party president Nigel, and increasingly the leader Jacinda Ardern, are on the line as the bullying and sexual assault claims grow in strength as more people and information comes out in the media.

The Spinoff: Timeline: Everything we know about the Labour staffer misconduct inquiry

Jacinda Ardern has declared herself “deeply concerned and incredibly frustrated” over the allegations levelled at a Labour staffer as well as the party investigation into the man, who remains employed by the Labour leader’s office and denies wrongdoing.

The party president says he is “confident I have handled the process in a professional manner”.

The prime minister says she had been assured that no complainant alleged sexual assault or violence. She says the first she learned of the nature of the allegations that Sarah (a pseudonym) insists she raised repeatedly with the Labour Party, was upon reading the Spinoff’s investigation published on Monday.

A crucial question is whether the Labour Party’s position, that it was not informed of the allegations, is tenable. Just as important is whether its process – for example in repeatedly failing to meet complainants’ requests to review the summaries of their oral evidence – is defensible.

They then detail “an incomplete chronology” based on public statements and numerous documents provided to The Spinoff. This collates much of what has been made known already, but includes corroboration of the authenticity of an Open Letter to Ardern:

An “open letter to the prime minister” is circulated within the party by “Me Too Labour”, an unnamed “group of Labour Party members who are writing to you to urge you to immediately take action regarding the allegations” surrounding the staffer. It makes a series of demands including the resignation of Haworth. The letter, which The Spinoff has verified originates from party members, had by lunchtime attracted more than 100 signatures.

From the open letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

We are a group of Labour Party members who are writing to you to urge you to immediately take action regarding the allegations of repeated sexual assaults, harassment and predatory behaviour of one of your staff, who is a member of the Labour Party, as detailed in these stories:

https://thespinoff.co.nz/unsponsored/09-09-2019/a-labour-volunteer-alleged-violent-sexual-assault-by-a-senior-staffer-this-is-her-story/?fbclid=IwAR2w3BYBKCccR_hDGB-qNqohdFcXnS157NsZLbBj1yVrjl9M6mBscbQjuRo

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/115592299/young-labour-abuse-victims-barred-from-parliament-offices

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/08/exclusive-labour-forced-to-review-investigation-into-bullying-sexual-assault-allegations-against-staffer.html

Some of us are the survivors. Others are their friends and supporters. All of us have watched in horror as this story has unfolded, as the survivors have been repeatedly re-traumatised, and as the Labour Party has run a shambles of a process that has enabled an alleged attacker and shut out his survivors. This issue has been discussed for too long in secret meetings and private conversations, and it is our hope that by drawing attention to it in the light of day we will get the action that the survivors deserve. We are sending this letter to the Labour Party caucus, the entirety of the New Zealand Council of the Labour Party, and to all Labour Party LECs.

What has been outlined in the stories is nothing short of sexual assault. What has been outlined as the party’s process in addressing this assault is nothing short of enabling.

It has been claimed that this letter is a ‘false flag’, part of a conspiracy and attempts have been made to discredit it at The Standard.

Stuff: Complaints about Labour Party staffer taken to his employer

Two of the complainants in an investigation into assault, bullying and harassment by a Labour Party staffer have taken their concerns directly to the man’s employer.

The man, who Stuff cannot name for legal reasons, works in the Labour Leader’s Office, but is a public servant employed by Parliamentary Service.

A 19-year-old woman, who alleges sexual assault, and a young man, who has accused the staffer of throwing a punch at him, wrote to Parliamentary Service boss Rafael Gonzalez-Montero on Tuesday.

But Gonzelez-Montero says his hands are tied because the accusations do not relate to the man’s employment. Neither of the complainants work at Parliament.

It’s hard to understand why this can be deemed not an employment matter.

The man has not been stood down. But he agreed to work from home after allegations surfaced about his conduct in early August.

The issue has a direct effect on the man’s employment.

It is also hard to understand why Ardern is allowing this man to continue to work for her office in the current situation. It could drag her and her Government down.

HDPA (Newstalk ZB): We must question PM’s honesty over Labour sexual assault allegations:

This is what we want to ask her: When did she know that the allegations against a staffer in her office were of an alleged sex crime?

She told media yesterday: ”I was informed in the very beginning that the allegations made were not sexual.”

She told RNZ this morning that she found out yesterday.

“The first I’ve seen the complaints of that nature was when I read then.” Asked when that was, she said “When I saw them in the Spinoff.”

That is very hard to believe. This has been reported in the media for the last five weeks.

If you believe that yesterday was the first the Prime Minister heard of this, then you must believe that the Prime Minister of this country does not watch, read or listen to the news reported in this country.

That she for the last five weeks has missed every bulletin, newspaper and programme that mentioned the fact this guy is alleged to have committed a sexual crime.

Like this on Newshub: “The Labour Party has been forced to review its own investigation into bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault by a Labour staffer.”

Or this: “Two more of the seven people who laid complaints about bullying, sexual harassment and assault by a Labour staffer have told Newshub about their experience of the department’s internal investigation.”

You have to also believe that the Prime Minister didn’t ask what allegation was so serious that a staffer in her office stopped coming to work five weeks ago.

You also have to square it with this comment she made yesterday in her press conference”:

“A month ago I visited New Zealand [Labour Party] Council. Very seriously shared my view that they were not the appropriate place to undertake inquiries around concerning behaviour of members of the Labour Party. But particularly they are not the appropriate place to ever undertake an investigation into a sexual assault. And that would be their view too.”

Why would she say to the Labour Party council that they were not the right people to investigate an alleged sex crime, if she didn’t know the allegations were of a sex crime?

Because she did. She did know.

On the 6th of August, one day after the story broke in the media, Mike Hosking raised it with her right here on this station.

He asked her: “How many people have quit your party as a result of this investigation into this bloke who may or may not have sexual assaulted someone?”

Her response was: “I’m going to be very careful answering that question Mike because this is an inquiry and work is still underway and it is still a party matter.”

Exactly when the Prime Minister knew is important for a bunch of reasons.

Did she fail in her duty of care to staffers and volunteers?  Was this supposed to be covered up? But mostly it’s important because this is now about her integrity

It’s becoming increasingly hard to believe her version of events, and possibly this is the first time that we’ve had reason to question Jacinda Ardern’s honesty.

This is not just Ardern’s honesty and credibility at stake. Labour’s chances in the next election may be severely compromised by this.

It has been claimed that the man facing the allegations is seen by Labour as an important part of their campaign team. He may be more toxic than helpful. It’s hard to understand why Ardern can’t see this. Perhaps she is (or has been)too close to the accused person.

Grant Robertson also seems to be involved in this, and may have been trying to distance Ardern from the growing issue.

Newshub: Emails show Labour was sent details of sexual assault allegations against party staffer

Newshub has obtained emails that show Labour was sent details six months ago of sexual assault allegations against a party staffer.

The party continues to deny it knew the claims against the man included sexual assault, but on Tuesday the Prime Minister said the party President Nigel Haworth has to go if it’s proven he mishandled the allegations.

Newshub has been forwarded an email sent by a complainant to one the members of the Labour Party investigating panel on the day of her interview.

She wanted to be able to read off a timeline and testimony. She asked if someone could print the document before her interview which was taking place an hour later.

A document “to print sexual assault experience” was attached.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was shown the document on Tuesday morning.

She told Newshub, “You’ll understand why we will want to take away this and look at it directly.”

Labour agrees the email was sent but claims there were no documents attached. The complainant says all three members of the investigating panel were given a printed copy.

Newshub revealed in August Finance Minister Grant Robertson was aware of the investigation and some complaints, but he’s refusing to say how much he knew.

“I am not going to comment any further than what I have on that because I will be undermining the privacy,” he told Newshub.

In an interview on RNZ’s Checkpoint yesterday a man who claims to be the victim of an attempted physical assault and a physical assault indicated the accused man had family connections to the Labour Party.

Protecting him looks increasingly untenable.


And more just posted at The Spinoff: Fresh evidence emerges confirming Labour was told of sexual assault allegations on June 11

The woman who alleges sexual assault by a man currently employed by the Labour Leader’s office has expressed dismay at the response of the Labour Party president, Nigel Howarth, who yesterday issued a public statement doubling down on his position that sexual assault allegations contained in investigation published by The Spinoff were never made known to anyone involved in the Labour inquiry.

“He was like a fatherly figure to these six women, and he’s let us down,” she told The Spinoff.

Her comments come as a second email has newly emerged which shows Sarah, the pseudonym by which she is described in The Spinoff’s story, sending a written account of sexual abuse allegations to the Labour Party.

In the email, dated June 11 and sent to the three members of the investigation panel, she directs them to an attached document which contains clear reference to her allegation of being sexually assaulted by the man.

This is on top of another email, sent on the morning of her interview to the chair of the panel, requesting that attached documents be printed. He asked her to send it on to the party official who was overseeing access to Labour headquarters, which she did. According to Sarah four copies of those documents were printed and provided to the panel.

The Labour Party has told The Spinoff that no attachments were received by the investigation chair, and that no one involved in the investigation was aware that any of the people appearing before them was alleging sexual assault.

Sarah told The Spinoff yesterday she was “disappointed” by what she regarded as a “cowardly” statements on the part of the Labour Party. She maintained that her traumatic experience, as detailed Monday on The Spinoff, was first described to Labour at a meeting in October 2018 with Nigel Haworth and general secretary Dianna Lacy. She said this was reiterated to the investigating sub-committee in March 2019.

“We’ve had so many email exchanges that talk about the nature of the investigation,” she said. ““I’m incredibly saddened … Standing by a process you know is flawed, a process you know retraumatised and put further young women at risk is cowardly.”

 

Labour’s ongoing bungling of dealing with assaults within the party

The Labour Party badly bungled how they handled the complaints of assault that happened at a Young Labour Summer Camp in 2018 – the accused person has just pleaded guilty to two charges of assault.

Worse than this, stories keep emerging of far more serious sexual assaults by a Labour staffer working in the prime Ministers’s office.

The responsibility for this disturbing mismanagement lies mostly with the party president, Nigel Haworth, but Jacinda Ardern is also tainted by association, especially by apparent close association regarding the staffer.

The party tried to deal with the Summer Camp problem internally until complaints went public, an inquiry was ordered, and police lay charges. Haworth and Ardern vowed to sort out their procedures for dealing with complaints. But they have botched again.

It finally got to trial last week, and after chargees were dreduced the trial ended with guilty pleas.

RNZ on September 4 2019:  Man accused of Young Labour camp assaults pleads guilty

The man accused of assaulting teenagers at a Young Labour summer camp has pleaded guilty to two charges of assault on the third day of his trial.

The 21-year-old, who has continued name suppression, was facing five charges of indecent assault in relation to four teenagers.

He was accused of touching the genitals of two young men, kissing and licking a young woman on her neck and face and groping another young woman’s breast and bottom.

Today, midway through the trial, he pleaded guilty to assaulting two young men at the camp near Waihi last year.

The indecent assault charges, in relation to the two young women, were dropped this morning.

The third indecent assault charge, in relation to one of the young men, was dismissed.

The man’s lawyer Emma Priest had earlier asked the jury to consider whether or not the defendant was the sexual offender the Crown suggested he is, or just a young man at a party “caught up in a political storm”.

She has indicated she will apply for a discharge without conviction.

After the charges were withdrawn, Ms Priest said her client had always been prepared to take responsibility for the two assaults.

The man will be sentenced in November.

Judge Russell Collins said he hoped what happened at the camp wouldn’t put young people off being involved in political groups.

It sounds like the assaults were relatively minor but of a sexual nature, and there were multiple victims.

While the man’s name remains suppressed there have been suggestions he may be related to someone senior in the Labour Party.

Following the trial which brought up Labour’s poor handling of the assaults, more details and claims emerge from the party problem in Parliament.

It appears that the Labour Party is failing assault victims badly here. On Sunday from Stuff:

Young Labour abuse victims barred from Parliament offices

​Labour’s president Nigel Haworth barred complainants and witnesses in an alleged bullying and sexual harassment case from one of Parliament’s main buildings.

Leaked emails show Haworth and other senior officials instructed the women, all Labour party members, to stay away from the Labour party offices in Bowen House, where the man at the centre of their complaints works.

Monday from The Spinoff:

A Labour volunteer alleged a violent sexual assault by a Labour staffer. This is her story

A Labour party staffer is alleged to have committed a serious and sustained sexual assault on a 19-year-old volunteer early in 2018. The volunteer told the Spinoff the assault was compounded by the resulting inquiry, during which the alleged perpetrator was not stood down from any duties, which included the supervision of Young Labour volunteers.

The complaint process, undertaken entirely by people within the Labour Party, has left her feeling “angry, quite fearful and desperate”.

The alleged perpetrator has ties throughout the party hierarchy. The woman, who remains a member of the Labour Party, said the man’s level of influence left her constantly frightened of the impact of speaking out.

Over the course of numerous in-depth interviews with The Spinoff, Sarah – whose name has been changed to protect her identity – detailed how she was pinned down and sexually assaulted at the man’s home during a private meeting to discuss party business in early 2018. The process that followed, beginning in April 2018 during the post-Labour Camp review undertaken by Maria Berryman, has completely eroded her faith in the party.

Sarah is one of at least seven people who made formal complaints in relation to the individual, ranging from bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment through to sexual assault. She described him as having a “pretty senior and active” role in the party, and being well-connected with several high profile Labour MPs.

The Party is running out of carpet to sweep this under. Nigel Haworth’s position must be in jeopardy.

Why Labour president must resign over sexual assault allegations

Ardern can no longer pretend that sexual harassment is someone else’s problem.

It will be a painful realisation, but Labour must accept that it has a toxic culture and does not look after its young members.

The first step in addressing that is to fire Haworth, the man who badly failed all the complainants.

This time, the party must protect them – and not turn away.

The Spinoff Editorial: Labour has failed vulnerable young members for a second time. There must be consequences

n the aftermath of revelations about an alleged sexual assault at a 2018 Labour youth summer camp, party leader Jacinda Ardern fronted the media to express her dismay. Both at what had happened, and how her party had responded to it.

“We failed the young people who told us they had been hurt – this failure left them feeling abandoned and I am deeply sorry for that,” she said.

Ardern and the party president Nigel Haworth vowed that such an experience and outcome was unacceptable, and when an inquiry was launched, announced that its scope would not simply be limited to the events at the camp, but open to other historical allegations, too.

Watching all this unfold was a young Labour member who had her own harrowing experience within Labour. Hearing their words, she found it within herself to approach the lawyer appointed to lead the investigation. After hearing from the lawyer that the summer camp allegations were taking priority, she met with the party president and assistant general secretary, who formed a panel to investigate her claims.

As The Spinoff’s reporting showed this morning, some of the experiences which motivated the young Labour members to get in touch were incredibly harrowing. The allegations they carried with them were about a single party member, and ranged from bullying to abuse of power to assault to sexual assault.

The very fact of engaging with the party was intimidating. The man they were speaking out about was an influential staffer, well-connected within the party and its parliamentary wing. The fact that it was the same party investigating made them worried about the security of their information, and unsure about where loyalties lay. Yet they fronted up on a Saturday in March, and told their stories to a panel comprised of three members of Labour’s governing council.

That panel appears to have been more intent on containing the story for political reasons, with victims claiming they have been treated badly.

As reported on Sunday by Stuff, the alleged perpetrator remains in his role. And Haworth, who has now presided over two acknowledged failures, remains in his.

He, and his party, need to quickly decide whether that is a state of affairs which should continue. At the very least they need to pledge immediately and unequivocally that all future inquiries will be run by qualified individuals independent of the party.

It has been a long and torturous process. A process which began when a young woman decided to come forward after hearing the most senior individuals in the party encourage her to do so. At the time the party acknowledged having “failed” its young people. Unconscionably, another group of young people are today living with that same sensation – of a party which they loved having badly let them down.

Jacinda Ardern had to front up at her weekly media conference yesterday.

The Spinoff:  ‘Incredibly frustrated, deeply disappointed’: Ardern speaks on Labour inquiry

The prime minister and leader of the Labour Party, Jacinda Ardern, has this afternoon responded to questions relating to allegations of sexual assault by a Labour staffer, and the controversial process surrounding an inquiry into his behaviour. She was “incredibly frustrated and deeply disappointed” by the way it had been handled, she said.

“I want to make it very clear that I am deeply concerned and incredibly frustrated by the process that has been undertaken by the Labour Party, but also obviously by the nature of the allegations,” she said, speaking to reporters at her weekly post-cabinet press conference.

“I was informed in the very beginning that the allegations made were not sexual in nature. That is obviously directly counter to what is now being reported.”

Ardern said she had “sought assurances that they were not [sexual in nature] in the very beginning. I have obvious since seen and heard questions in the media raised as to whether or not that was accurate.”

Perhaps party management and the inquiry panel have tried to shield and distance Ardern from the issues, but their bungling has put Ardern in a very difficult position.

Ardern said she had attended a meeting of the New Zealand Council, the governing body of the Labour Party, on August 10, after the story was broken by Newshub. She had “very seriously shared my view that they were not the appropriate place to undertake inquiries around concerning behaviour by members of the Labour Party, but particularly they are not the appropriate place to ever undertake an investigation into a sexual assault, and that would be their view, too”, she said.

Following that meeting, Maria Dew, QC, was appointed to undertake a review of the original inquiry.

The prime minister would not say whether the individual at the centre of the inquiry had been stood down from his role in the Labour Party, but that “the person referenced in the article has not been on the precinct … for roughly five weeks now and will not be on the precinct at least for the duration of the inquiry that’s being undertaken by a QC appointed by the Labour Party.”

She said she does not believe the alleged is still attending party meetings and events.

Ardern should know exactly what the situation is with the staffer accused of multiple assaults. David Farrar claims that as party leader Ardern has the power to terminate the employment of the staffer: The clause Jacinda refuses to use

The staffer should at least be suspended pending the outcome of the latest inquiry. That is standard practice in other workplaces.

When asked if she retained confidence in the president of the Labour Party, Nigel Haworth, Ardern said: “I absolutely believe that the president wants to do the right thing by those involved and by the party. But I have had competing reports now on the nature of the allegations and the complaint process. It was a month ago that I expressed complete dissatisfaction with the way it had been handled by the Labour Party. And I’m now going to await the findings of the QC’s report.”

Awaiting the findings will allow this to fester further, but Ardern seems to want to continue with this hands off approach. She should at the very least be talking sternly with Haworth, now.

Ardern said the QC would report directly to her, rather than the NZ Council.

“I need absolute clarity. I have not received it through the competing reports to date … I do need a third party, a reliable, trusted individual to give me clarity and I will act on the findings decisively.”

That’s what she and the party should have demanded over the summer camp assaults issue, and when the Parliamentary staffer story broke.

She added: “I will be seeking assurance that the party will provide all the information that it was provided during the original investigation to the QC.”

She should be demanding that for herself right now.

Newsroom: Labour fails to learn from its mistakes

A little over a year ago, Labour Party president Nigel Haworth promised the party he had presided over since 2015 would change.

In the wake of claims that four young supporters were sexually assaultedduring one of the party’s summer camps, Haworth announced Labour had accepted all the recommendations of a review into the events.

Among them was a commitment to review or develop policies for sexual harassment and assault, bullying and the party’s code of conduct, as well as introducing “a new open complaints process to enable complaints to be received and responded to without delay and with the appropriate degree of specialist advice”.

Now, claims about Labour’s approach to allegations made against one of its employees suggests the party has not changed as much as it should have – but its president may have to.

…it is Haworth who is the constant in both cases, and Haworth who left Ardern expressing her concern and frustration about the Labour Party’s process.

The Prime Minister would not directly state that he had misled her, but her comment when asked if she had confidence in him that he had “articulated to me that he only wants to ensure he has done the right thing” smacked of damnation with faint praise.

Speaking after the complainants’ concerns came to light, Ardern said the investigation had been “a test of whether or not we’ve now learnt from” the summer camp scandal.

It is a test the party appears to be failing – and Haworth may be the one who has to pay the price.

I think that after two major failures Haworth should step down, and if not he should be stood down.

But there is a bigger political price that may be paid.

This is seriously threatening Brand Jacinda. She has talked strongly about new standards of decency in politics, but has failed to match her own rhetoric with her distancing from these serious issues. I think it is quite possible this will impact on Labour’s re-election chances significantly.

But that’s just a political consequence.

The worst aspect of this is the victims who continue to be very poorly protected and listened to by the party they had thought was better than all of this.


Update: It looks like the problem for labour is growing, with more people and claims coming out today.

Another person (male) has gone to media, corroborating what others have claimed, and claiming the accused man took a swing at him when he confronted him over his treatment of women, and claims a separate physical assault.

Labour assault investigation retraumatised victims – witness

A man who says he was assaulted by a Labour Party staffer would like to meet with Jacinda Ardern to discuss the party’s handling of claims of sexual abuse and assault.

The Prime Minister has refused…

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018712678/labour-assault-investigation-retraumatised-victims-witness

This is a problem that doesn’t look like going away for Ardern and Labour. Waiting weeks for the outcome of the QC inquiry to be completed may be too little, too late to avert or stem irreparable damage.

RNZ also gave credence to the open letter.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018712686/ardern-urged-by-labour-members-to-act-on-assault-complaints

As did One News.

It comes after an open letter sent by some of the alleged victims of a Labour Party staffer asked for the Prime Minister to “do the right thing”.

Also:

A complaint has been made to Parliamentary Service against the person at the centre of the Labour Party staffer allegations.

It was made by a person who does not work at Parliament, meaning Parliamentary Service cannot act on it.

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/complaint-made-parliamentary-service-against-labour-staffer

This may or may not be a different complainant again but the claims are a little different to what was said on RNZ.

Former Labour party volunteer says he raised allegations with party president Nigel Haworth

But one of the 12 complainants told Stuff he directly raised the matter with the investigating panel in March this year.

He has provided Stuff with an email he sent to Haworth in May which refers directly to “this investigation …which involved elements of predatory behaviour, sexual violence and physical violence.”

And the man says he spoke about it in a two-hour meeting with Haworth in early July.

Haworth has been approached for comment but has not replied.

“I definitely had those conversations with him and there is an email proving it,” the complainant told Stuff.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/115693354/former-labour-party-volunteer-says-he-raised-allegations-with-party-president-nigel-haworth

Mallard’s Parliament rape claim under scrutiny as man responds

The Speaker Trevor Mallard has admitted that he didn’t handle the furore he created in Parliament well, when he stated that accusations of sexual attacks in the Francis report amounted to rape, and that the accused person was still working in Parliament. The next day a Parliamentary staffer was stood down. he is now speaking up.

NZ Herald:  ‘I’m in a very dark place’: Man stood down from Parliament after Speaker Trevor Mallard’s rape claims

The man stood down from Parliament after Speaker Trevor Mallard’s claims about rape has spoken out.

Referring last week to the alleged assaults, Mallard said: “We’re talking about serious sexual assault. Well that, for me, that’s rape.”

In a two-hour sit-down discussion in his home, the devastated man said: “The accusation of rape has put me in a very dark place.

“I was driving to Parliament the day after the bullying and harassment report on the place was delivered and heard on the radio that a ‘rapist’ could be stalking the corridors and it disturbed me greatly,” he said.

However early that afternoon he realised he was the so-called “rapist” when he was summoned into the office of the Parliamentary Service boss Rafael Gonzalez-Montero to be stood down.

A colleague at the centre of an unsubstantiated complaint against him three years earlier had come forward again after complainants were urged to do so by the Speaker.

“It’s ironic that the review was about bullying and harassment. I feel I’ve been bullied out of Parliament and harassed within it, particularly by the Speaker’s claim,” the teary-eyed man said.

The complaint was ruled to be unsubstantiated last year, laid two years after the incident happened.

The man said it resulted from working alongside a colleague at Parliament when a clipboard was lost.

“We searched for the clipboard which was important and with great relief we finally found it. She gave me a high five but being a little old-fashioned I hugged her back, that was honestly all there was to it,” the man said.

Hugging isn’t old-fashioned. It has become a thing over recent years – in my opinion too much of a thing to do, especially with people you don’t know well.

I think that it is generally inappropriate and unprofesssional to hug colleagues at work. And risky.

Hugging someone because something is found seems quite odd to me, but it doesn’t sound anywhere near rape or even sexual assault as explained by the man here (perceptions can be different).

The Speaker understood the same man was responsible for the two other claims of serious sexual assault. He later added one of the key dangers is no longer in the building.

The man said he’s dumbfounded but the same woman was involved in one of the other complaints. He said he passed a comment about another woman’s hair looking nice, with the original complainant telling her he was looking at her breasts.

The third complaint came following a platonic friendship he had with another colleague, who on one occasion came around to his house with her son for a cup of tea with his wife. He says he kissed her on the cheek once as he was farewelling her and he suspects she was put up to the complaint by someone else.

Again, kissing a colleague on the cheek seems inappropriate. It’s important to remember that this is as he describes it, and the woman may have a different recollection or perception.

Saying he suspects she was put up to the complaint by someone else seems quite odd.

 

The distraught man said: “I never thought I would ever find myself in this situation, it’s not who I am, I’m thoroughly devastated. I would like to be able to return to work to clear my name and I expect, at the very least an apology from the Speaker for labelling me as a rapist which I most certainly am not.

“Surely he must have known the background to the complaints and if he did, his comment is slanderous as I’m sure many in Parliament now know I’m the one who has been stood down. I have been married for many years and have throughout been monogamous.”

The rapist claim by Mallard did seem a big leap at the time based on what was disclosed in the report.

But trying to resolve things like this via media is a poor way to sort them out. the man may be mostly innocent, but unfortunately his word cannot just be accepted as the full facts of the matter.

More from NZH:  ‘Bullied out’: Man stood down from Parliament after Speaker Trevor Mallard’s rape claims wants apology

The man stood down from Parliament after Trevor Mallard’s claims about rape says he feels bullied out of the building and wants an apology for what he described as the Speaker’s “slanderous” comments.

Mallard declined to comment yesterday, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern entered into a terse exchange over the interview at Monday afternoon’s post-Cabinet press conference.

Ardern refused to comment on the nature of the allegations in the Francis report.

All information given to the Francis report was anonymous, she said.

“You’ve asked me to comment on the Francis report which had allegations within it that I have not seen the detail of, that were provided confidentially and that were provided under that banner to ensure that those who were the victims felt able to come forward and speak openly to the inquirer, so I simply cannot comment on what you’re stating.”

Ardern also said she did not know what information Mallard may or may not have in relation to the allegations.

This has become a very messy situation for Parliament and for Mallard.

Regardless of the facts of this matter, I think that the practice of hugging has goner far too far, especially in work situations. Hugging is a close and personal thing, and I think should be reserved for people you are close to in a personal way – and even then you have to be aware that not everyone likes to hug.

Aspects of #metoo include blanket suspicion and #manydon’t

The #MeToo movement has highlighted a dirty secret – that many women have been sexually abused, assault, raped. There is no doubt that many women have been adversely affected, and that some men are too pushy, some are cretins, some are predators. It has been a huge problem.

So this has been a big problem for far too many women.

It has also been a huge problem for some men who have also been victims of sexual assault. You just need to see how widespread and insidious sexual predation has been within the Catholic priesthood – and how the Catholic Church has effectively protected them, have aided and abetted them.

It is also a problem that ‘men’ as a whole are attacked and bear the blame for the actions of some men. I think that statistics on this struggle to demonstrate the real numbers. There are many female victims, but I think that cases that are reported show that some men have attacked multiple victims, sometimes many. This suggests to me that the proportion of men who are to blame may be significantly less then the proportion of females who have been victims.

There are still a large number of men who have been perpetrators, ranging from ignorant males who coerce and pressure, to hard out predators.

But many men are not like this. Many men respect women and don’t assault women. Most men.

So it’s good to see a thread like this on Twitter, beginning with:

And then he said “maybe isn’t yes” and I went home that night, un-assaulted, because I hadn’t talked to a rapist at that party.

Another story: I went out drinking with girl friends at a bar a few years later. I was flirting with a guy there, he grabbed my hand, pulled me outside, into an alley, he kissed me hard and then looked at me and said, “yes?” I didn’t say anything.

He said “go back inside then,” maybe he was annoyed but he meant it, I went back inside. There wasn’t a rapist at that bar.

One time a guy and I had flirted, he invited me to his room, I went we kissed, I said I liked it, he took off his clothes, I touched him, he tried to take off my clothes, I resisted, he said “seems like you’re not into this” I said, ehhh, he said, no, it’s only fun if you want it.

I said, I’m sorry, he said it’s ok. I left, unmolested. I was lucky, I hadn’t met a rapist that night.

I’ve been assaulted. I’ve also been not assaulted. The difference didn’t seem to be what I was wearing, how flirty I was, how much I was drinking. The only difference seemed to be whether or not the men felt it was ok or not to assault.

An important difference.

It’s important to understand how assaults and breaches of trust can affect women (and male victims). @SweetGeeking:

All of us women at some point become aware of our sexuality, and how vulnerable it makes us.

‘All of us women’ sounds like a generalisation, I would expect that women have a variety experiences and feelings about their sexuality. But this one woman’s valid story.

In that moment, we receive an invisible backpack that we have to tend for the rest of our lives. For some like myself, we learn that lesson in a violent way, long before we should ever even know what sex is. Others receive their backpack later in life, but we rarely escape puberty without it.

Our invisible backpacks vary in size and weight, usually in relation to the circumstances under which we received it. But it goes everywhere with us. It’s something we carry and tend to.

We carry our keys b/n our fingers when walking to our cars at night.

We don’t go jogging after dark, and even in the daytime we vary our routes in case someone is looking for a pattern.

We instinctively park under lights when we know we will come back to our car after dark. We do thousands of tiny things, all the time, without even thinking about it, because we don’t have any other choice.

We know that not all men are threats, but we also know damn fucking well that there’s no way to tell who is and who isn’t.

@SweetGeeking seems to assume that all women have similar feelings and fears, which is unlikely to be correct, but it’s likely that many do thinks and feel similarly as a result of having been assaulted.

And it is understandable that due to the actions of some men they become suspicious of all men.

My successful, church-going, computer programming, well-dressed, father of his own 2 daughters stepdad used my body for years, starting when I was very young. No one ever would have guessed. You can never tell.

I had the same roommate for 4 years. I know he’d never hurt me, but I still locked my door at night bc my stepdad would come into my bedroom at night, and decades later I still can’t sleep.

I know many men in my life have been shocked to learn how much this reality permeates every corner of our lives. Turn that shock into respect for how strong and badass we are. Please don’t pity me/us. Respect us & give us a seat at the table. And sit down and listen for a bit.

Generalisations aside this doesn’t shock me. It does shock me that some men abuse girls and women, and that that forces these fears and suspicions on them through no fault of their own. Sexual abuse is shocking, and the affects of this on victims can be profound and long lasting.

It is good to hear some different stories and experiences.

@jenstrange:

1st date w/ a guy: we had a daytime coffee meet-up & then I invited him to my house to play Mario Kart. We started kissing and I hesitated; he asked why, I said I was conflicted about moving too fast. He said, “then we’ll stop.” And we played more Mario. Reader, I married him.

I already felt really strongly about him but the fact that he didn’t act offended, didn’t try to pressure me, didn’t argue with me one bit, just said it’s ok and turned back to the game controllers . . . that’s how I knew he was as good as I thought he was.

Just as girls and women who are assaulted should not be blamed for what they wear or where they go and what they drink, all men should not be blamed for the offences of some men.

But it is inescapable that women who have been abused of men become suspicious of all men, until they get to know men in their lives well enough that they can trust them.

Men who respect women (or men), men who don’t abuse trust and abuse victims, they are generally not to blame for men who do assault and rape. But they can’t avoid being suspected of being possible attackers by victims of past assaults.

What men who don’t can do is make it clear that they are as shocked by men who do assault as most women are. Men who don’t can speak up and show that most men don’t, and that men who do are a minority who should be shown that predatory behaviour is unacceptable and wrong.

We shouldn’t stay silent and say it is not our problem, because it becomes our problem and is our problem if our girlfriends and our sisters and our partners and our daughters have been adversely affected by forced sexual behaviour by some men.

 

Arrest in relation to alleged sexual assault at Labour camp

A week after Andrew Kirton announces he is leaving his job with Labour.

Police are believed to have arrested the man at the centre of the Labour Party summer youth camp sexual assault allegations.

Newsroom understands the man, who Labour said at the time was not a party member, was arrested and charged yesterday and will appear in a court in Auckland in the next week.

One victim told Newsroom last night: “To know that four months after the assaults occurred, that some action is finally being taken is fantastic. It feels like there’s some closure. After months of backtracks, lack of support and media coverage, its all coming to a head.”

Kirton resigned last Friday to take a government relations role at Air New Zealand but is expected to be in office when the Berryman report is received. His actions over the camp allegations were widely criticised but he was praised highly by the party president at the time and when his resignation was announced.

I expect suppression will apply to the victims at least, and probably initially to the person arrested. So no naming here please – this will be strictly enforced,

Labour sexual assault review – terms of reference

Labour has released the terms of reference for the review into the sexual assault issues at the Young Labour summer camp. It will take 2-3 months, and all Labour Party members will be contacted.


Maria Berryman Review: Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for the Berryman review have been finalised.

  1. Ms. Berryman will inquire and report on:
    1. all Labour Party policies and procedures in relation to Young Labour events, that existed as of February 2018, having regard to all relevant legislation;
    2. whether such policies and procedures were applied correctly in respect of the February 2018 Young Labour summer camp;
    3. whether the policies and procedures, when correctly applied, adequately support the Labour Party’s objective of providing a safe environment for members and participants;
    4. all Labour Party policies and procedures in relation to the planning and management of events and the handling of complaints, having regard to all relevant legislation;
    5. whether such policies and procedures were applied correctly in respect of the February 2018 allegations;
    6. whether the policies and procedures, when correctly applied, reflect best practice.
  2. The Reviewer will not investigate or make findings about the specific allegations of sexual assault, except to the extent of how the policies and processes were applied in relation to the events prior to, and after, the alleged assaults.
  3. The Reviewer will make any recommendations for change that she thinks appropriate.
  4. In addition, because the possibility of at least one other incident of a similar nature has been raised in the media, the Reviewer will also be available to, and will establish processes to:
    1. receive any other concerns of issues that any person may wish to raise in relation to previous events (either relating to Young Labour or the Labour Party more generally); and
    2. take such steps as she considers appropriate in relation to those other issues, having regard to the wishes of those who raise them with her. Those steps may include recommendations to the Labour Party Council.

“Ms Berryman is commencing immediately with the initial focus of her investigation on the Young Labour camp in February. The review is expected to take between two and three months,” said Nigel Haworth, Labour Party President.

“A statement will be issued when the review has been completed, outlining any recommendations as well as the steps the Labour Party will be taking to implement them.

“All members of the Party will be contacted in relation to the review.

“Historical cases may be brought to Ms Berryman’s attention by sending details of the case to: labourreview@kensingtonswan.com

“This address will be confidential to Ms Berryman and will be available on our website at www.labour.org.nz.

“The Labour Party will fully cooperate with Ms Berryman’s requirements in the completion of her review.

“Labour will not be commenting further while this investigation is underway,” said Haworth.

20 year old should front up

One 20 year old man has caused substantial damage after alleged sexual assaults at a party during a Young Labour summer camp last month.

I think he should front up and identify himself, to remove suspicion from anyone else (particularly the other young males who attended the camp). As he is facing a police investigation and possible charges he shouldn’t have to admit anything, but he should out himself.

Jacinda Ardern accepts that something serious occurred:

“The environment was not a safe one and that’s something we have to fix.

“It shouldn’t have happened, we should absolutely have made sure those people were looked after and that hasn’t happened.”

From a statement from Labour General Secretary Andrew Kirton indicates no party denial that something serious happened:

“We are extremely disappointed that an incident like this happened at a Labour event and we are working to make sure those involved receive any support they need. We are deeply sorry for the distress that’s been caused. It shouldn’t have happened.

“The morning after an evening in which we understand several young people had consumed alcohol, Young Labour was alerted to complaints in relation to the behaviour of a 20-year-old man.

“I have subsequently banned the perpetrator from any future Labour Party events.”

The actions of the 20 year old have caused problems for many.

Obviously the claimed four victims will be have been affected, at least one (reported to be male) to the extent that they prompted Labour (Megan Woods) to do something about it, and they have now complained to the police, who are investigating.

Others impacted by their actions or by association:

  • Young Labour, who have had all events suspended by the Labour Party.
  • The camp organiser (who went to bed early, before the alleged offences occurred).
  • The Labour Party, in particular secretary Andrew Kirton who has admitted not responding to the allegations adequately, and also president Nigel Haworth who was involved in the inadequate action.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who, if as claimed she only found out when blind sided at a media conference on Monday, has been seriously embarrassed by the offending at the camp (which she had attended) and by the poor handling of the aftermath.
  • Cabinet Minister Megan Woods who initiated action when approached by someone on Facebook – she should be credited for acting immediately, but has been criticised for not informing Ardern.
  • New Labour MP Liz Craig, who was at the camp but was asleep when the alleged offences occurred (however she was present when alcohol was being consumed).
  • The 50 or so attendees at the camp.

Those who attended the camp other than the alleged victims will also have been impacted. I’m sure they have had to explain their involvement in the camp, and the partying, and if under age the alcohol consumption (and possibly drugs).

NZ Herald:

Kirton told the Herald that Labour had not sought the consent of minors to supply them alcohol because it had not been expected that they would be drinking alcohol.

Under the law it is unlawful to supply anyone aged under 18 with alcohol without the consent of a parent or guardian.

Kirton said such consent was not sought “because the intention was no one under 18 would participate in that.”

According to witnesses who spoke to Newsroom, there was a large array of alcohol available at the Saturday night party including rum, vodka, cider and a large array of RTDs. The witness saw many people drinking, including a 15-year-old.

This will affect any Labour events in the future.

But the biggest and immediate issue is the alleged sexual assaults.

Any of the males who attended the camp will be under suspicion. Most won’t be 20 years old, but they shouldn’t have to wear signs around their necks saying “Yes I was at the camp but no I am not 20!”

Andrew Kirton:

Kirton says the 20-year-old alleged to have groped the four teenagers at the event was “deeply embarrassed” when confronted about it the next day.

“He was spoken to the morning after and my understanding is he was deeply embarrassed and they got him out straight away.

“My understanding from the conversation relayed back to me was that he recognised he had drunk too much and that he was embarrassed by what happened.”

Recognising that he had drunk too much is not the issue. The allegations of multiple sexual groping are the problem here, and alcohol consumption is no excuse for that. Most people who drink alcohol don’t act as alleged he did. There is only one alleged offender.

That person should identify themselves so that no one else involved is under suspicion.

This shouldn’t impact on the victims, who won’t be identified any more than they are now.

The 20 year old, if he did offend, has a legal right to not admit anything, but he could save the victims a lot ongoing attention and grief by fronting up and accepting responsibility and admitting what he did. This would mean the victims would not have to go through the investigation processes and possibly court processes.

The 20 year old has caused many problems and has done a lot of damage, to the victims if the allegations are true, to Young Labour and to Labour.

He could mitigate some of that damage by fronting up. This would also mitigate the end result of any legal repercussions.

If he remains silent and anonymous the damage will continue – in particular for the victims and for innocent males who also attended the camp.

 

Labour laxness, and parents’ right to know about sexual assault

Criticism of Labour’s lax handling of the summer camp sexual assaults continues.

ODT Editorial: Missteps on harassment allegations

Allegations have been made four Young Labour supporters were sexually assaulted at the camp last month. Two males and two females, all 16, were allegedly assaulted or harassed by a 20-year-old man during a party at the Waihi camp.

The man was reportedly intoxicated and put his hand down the pants of at least three of the four young people. The affected teenagers did not get much support until the day before the story was due to break on the Newsroom website. The support came three weeks after the camp.

The things which did not happen include Labour Party general secretary Andrew Kirton not telling the parents of the young people, not notifying the police of the allegations and not informing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was apparently caught unawares by the allegations when questioned by the media.

One of the reasons put forward by Mr Kirton for not telling anyone about the incidents was he wanted a victim-led process, defying the logic of having 16-year-olds allegedly sexually harassed or interfered with.

There have been suggestions Ms Ardern is going to investigate the matter; not a wise decision if true. A prime ministerial investigation could step across any investigation to be instigated by the police.

Ardern may have had sufficient time to rethink that proposal.

There are huge implications for Labour in this. Strong women MPs have, over the years, stood together on issues such as gender equality and sexual connotations.

Labour has made serious mistakes in the handling of this complicated issue. The young people are again being made victims because of the ineptness by party officials.

Whether parents will again trust Young Labour at a future camp is a moot point. The party’s obligation was to the young people and their families. The police should have been involved at the earliest opportunity.

Dominion Post editorial: Labour should have fronted on sexual misconduct

Sorry, Labour, but the age of innocence is over. It’s well and truly buried. There are no longer any excuses.

Woman after woman after woman – and the odd man too – has stepped forward to declare that time’s up on sexual harassment, on assault, on staying quiet.

Ignorance is not bliss. Was it ever?

So it’s quite extraordinary that a political party that has appeared to embrace the social-media surge and momentum behind the #metoo movement and the rise of young, ambitious women; that has euphorically smashed a few of its own glass ceilings in storming the citadels of power; and which offers such wonderful inspiration to wide-eyed youngsters considering their own political and business careers, should have chosen to maintain a small, closed circle around sexual assault.

​Extraordinary, and possibly just a little convenient. There is an argument to be made that Labour’s hierarchy was focused solely on the wishes of four 16-year-olds allegedly sexually assaulted at one of the party’s events when it largely kept the issue ‘in-house’. That is certainly its stance.

There is another argument that the hierarchy’s considered, “victim-led” approach carried an element of political calibration. We’ll leave readers to draw their own conclusions on that.

Political considerations cannot be separated from Labour’s inept handling of the assaults.

Sadly, the reaction echoes the darker machinations of other previously austere bodies when faced with such issues: the transgressions have been kept behind closed doors and the transgressor has simply been moved on.

Labour has handled this poorly, at practically every step. The party’s general secretary, Andrew Kirton, wasn’t informed until four days later. He made another, possibly politically motivated, decision not to tell his boss, Jacinda Ardern.

Why? It’s a simple enough question. Did he think such things below her station? Did he believe that not telling her would give her some protection against any possible media prying in future? Did he simply believe that it was contained?

Again, it’s hard not to see a political method to the madness.

Ex-ACT MP Heather Roy has a say on Young Labour Summer Camp and Parents’ Right to Know

There has been much discussion today about what should have happened when a drunken 20 year old allegedly sexually assaulted three 16 year olds at a Labour Party summer Youth Camp. The handling of the affair by Labour party officials was clumsy at best, bungling and harmful at worst. Everyone agrees that the inappropriate events should have been dealt with swiftly.

Parents, who had presumably consented to their 16 year olds going off to Labour summer camp, had the right to believe their children were going to a safe environment. Yes things sometimes happen, but when they do the expectation is that they are dealt with adequately.

The decision to not tell parents what had happened (so they could assist their children if traumatized) is either amazingly naïve or, more likely, it was intended to prevent the media storm and disdain now being launched at Labour for a significant lack of judgement.

Some have said that it is ‘best practice’ not to tell parents or police, but I think that many, if not most, parents would disagree.

The matter should have been dealt with by the system – the police – not ineptly handled by the Labour Party, acting as police, judge and jury, to avoid public and political embarrassment. There is a presumed perpetrator who should be held to account or vindicated if not guilty.

So the Prime Minister didn’t know, wasn’t told and was surprised when door stopped by media. That’s a failing by her party. More importantly, they have let down young people who don’t deserve to be let down.

And Labour are still flailing and failing on this. They haven’t fronted up adequately – including Prime Minister Ardern.

And this isn’t the first time Andrew Kirton has tried to paper over a major embarrassment for Labour, in a situation where coincidentally Ardern also separated herself from any knowledge. This involved young people again, the mis-managed, ill-fated intern issue before last year’s election with a disingenuous conclusion.

More on Labour camp allegations

Following Allegation of sexual misconduct at Young Labour camp – more on this story is likely to emerge today.

The biggest issues seem to be why the police weren’t involved, why alcohol was supplied to under age people, and why didn’t Jacinda Ardern know anything about it until yesterday (her claim) while the Labour Party general secretary had known about it for a month.

RNZ round up from yesterday: PM investigating reports of sexual assault at Labour event

Tim Murphy has just been interviewed by RNZ – and he says that a senior Labour Cabinet Minister knew about it – but apparently not Ardern.

There also seems to have been concerned reactions from some parents, who only found out about the incidents when the news broke yesterday.

Ardern has no problem with Kirton not telling her. She waffles about this, around disclosure in preparation for media questions.

She says that Kirton acknowledges that it took too long to deal with the issue.

She fudges around the Cabinet Minister knowing but not informing her.

She acknowledges the party was at fault for being slow to deal with it. There was a three week lag between the camp and measures being taken to deal with it.

“Let me give you the reason why. The party president did know, we made s…Andrew Kirton made sure that he was aware, the senior vice president and the general secretary, this was a party function so the senior members of the party knew. The advice they had from those who specialise in this area, and we are not experts, was to be mindful of the wider circle who was aware in order to make sure they were protecting victims and acting in the best interest of victims.”

She is saying that senior members of the party knew, at least one senior Cabinet Minister knew, but she knew nothing.

Ardern sounds like she knows more about how this all played out, she rephrased her responses a number of times, and switched from ‘we’ to them.

Ardern is clear that the 20 year old who assaulted four 16 year olds was not a party member, but she says she doesn’t know details about their identity.

Ferguson: let’s just talk a little bit about this particular twenty year old, who is the twenty year old, is he a Labour Party staffer?

Ardern: No. No.

Ferguson: Is he a Labour party member?

Ardern: No. No.

Ferguson: Why was he at the summer camp?

Ardern: Good question. Very good question.

Ferguson: So you don’t know why this person was at the summer camp if he was not a member of the Labour Party?

Ardern: I believe he was associated with someone who was, but again I don’t know much beyond that.

I expect there will be more of this story to come out.