6 Aug 2019

Investigation into Labour staffer to be reviewed

2:43 pm on 6 August 2019

An investigation into several allegations of bullying and sexual assault by a Labour staffer is being reviewed, following complaints about the process.

The Beehive

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

It's reported there were concerns that the internal investigation was mishandled and it was traumatising for the alleged victims.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the matter is now being looked at independently to see whether it was handled appropriately.

"The party, and myself of course, want to be assured we are looking after the people who join the Labour Party, and look, by and large we do have many, many members who do have a good experience in the party.

"But when people tell us they don't, we need to take that seriously", she said.

Ms Ardern said the investigation was completed and the matter was not referred to the police, however she would not confirm any other details about the allegations, including where the person worked.

"I don't want to get into some of the details, particularly when it wasn't an employment matter.

"This has been raised as an issue with the party from the perspective of a party member, not an employment matter, so I do need to be clear on those distinctions", she said.

Ms Ardern said, as this is an internal party member, questions should be put to Party President Nigel Haworth.

Labour Party President Nigel Haworth.

Labour Party President Nigel Haworth. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

However Mr Haworth refused to stop to answer questions on his way into the Labour Party caucus this morning.

"I've issued a statement yesterday already which is absolutely appropriate" Mr Haworth said as he walked past reporters.

Following the Young Labour summer camp allegations in 2018 of sexual assault, an inquiry by lawyer Maria Austen recommended major changes to the party's bullying, sexual harassment and assault policies.

Ms Ardern said the party has completed changed its processes since then.

"This has been a test of whether or not we've now learnt from that and the party is taking a good look at whether we've satisfied the natural process of justice and whether or not we've supported the complainants as we should have.

"But we're waiting to find out what an independent view of that looks like", Ms Ardern said.

Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson is also understood to have been aware of the allegations.

He too was deflecting questions.

"Look, I don't think it's in anyone's interest in this scenario, least of all the people who've made complaints, for me to be commenting on that at this time.

"The party has got processes under way and they need to be able to be completed", Mr Robertson said.

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