5 Jun 2009

Attempts fail to arrange meeting over Worth claim

9:31 pm on 5 June 2009

Attempts to broker a meeting between the Prime Minister and an Indian woman who claims National MP Richard Worth pursued her sexually have so far been unsuccessful.

Dr Worth abruptly announced his resignation as Internal Affairs Minister and from other portfolios on Wednesday, shortly before police confirmed they were investigating a separate sexual complaint against him involving a different woman.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says he went to Prime Minister John Key in May with claims from a woman, who said Dr Worth sent her text messages and made phone calls that made her uncomfortable.

Mr Key said on Friday he needs to see evidence of inappropriate phone calls and texts the woman says she received before he can consider removing Dr Worth from caucus.

On Friday morning, Mr Key said he would rearrange his schedule to meet with the woman. However, he now says he wants his Chief of Staff to meet with her first to see whether she has relevant evidence.

Mr Key denies that he is reneging on his earlier promise and says he would still be happy to meet with her, once he is satisfied she has useful material to show him.

Mr Key told Morning Report on Friday that Dr Worth had denied the allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour brought to him by Mr Goff.

If those allegations prove correct, he said, it could be sufficient to remove Dr Worth from caucus.

"(Richard Worth) has signed a file note saying he will sign an affidavit that his version of events is right. That would be a very serious matter ... but obviously she needs to produce the texts."

Dr Worth released a statement on Thursday, saying he has not committed any offence and will "vigorously" defend himself.

Statement tabled

On Thursday night, Mr Goff tabled a statement in Parliament from the woman, who is a member of the Labour Party.

In the statement, the married woman says Dr Worth offered her two jobs and soon afterwards began calling and sending her text messages which she says left her uncomfortable, saying they were "vulgar and sexually explicit".

The woman has said she is happy to meet Mr Key and provide copies of the messages.