26 Feb 2015

Labour stands down Carmel Sepuloni

7:48 am on 26 February 2015

The Labour Party has stood down its social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni following charges of benefit fraud being laid against her mother.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said the charges against her mother meant Ms Sepuloni had a conflict of interest in the social development portfolio.

Mr Little said she would remain Junior Whip and remain at number seven on his front bench.

"She hasn't done anything wrong. She is in a situation where a close family member is facing charges. She is in a spokesperson role that means that her responsibilities conflict with that situation which is why she has been temporarily stood aside."

Ms Sepuloni had assured him she did not know her mother was facing charges until Wednesday, when she was stood down.

She would be reappointed as Labour's social development spokesperson following the conclusion of her mother's case, regardless of the outcome, he said.

Otago University Professor of Law Andrew Geddis said Mr Little was being "super cautious" and it was a political rather than a legal decision.

There was no real conflict of interest because Ms Sepuloni had no ability to influence what would happen in the case, he said.