17 Sep 2019

Labour assault complaints: Terms of reference 'need to be wider' - Bridges

7:09 pm on 17 September 2019

The National Party says unless the review into Labour's handling of sexual assault allegations includes the Beehive it will be a whitewash.

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Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The Prime Minister is trying to shut down the Labour sexual assault scandal before leaving for a two week overseas trip, saying it's time to let the reviewers do their job.

Jacinda Ardern did her usual round of media interviews this morning, but after her plane to Wellington was delayed this morning, had a very brief 'stand-up' with reporters at Parliament on her way into caucus.

"We need a very clear process where we can now actually follow what should be best practice - I absolutely accept that hasn't happened to date."

Maria Dew QC will look specifically at the complaints brought forward by a group of Labour party members.

A third party - independent of Labour - will also [. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/398909/ardern-outlines-further-actions-taken-regarding-assault-allegations look at the how allegations were handled] by party officials, and potentially senior government ministers and their staff

National Party leader Simon Bridges said at the moment the terms of reference meant there was no obligation on senior figures such as Finance Minister Grant Robertson to participate.

"If this isn't to be whitewash, the terms of reference need to be wider, they need to include what happened in the Beehive".

The questions for Grant Robertson were simple, said Mr Bridges, "what did he know, who, what, when, why...".

Mr Robertson, however, was not playing ball.

"I'm just not going to get into that, I don't think that serves the complainants or anybody in the situation."

But he said if asked, he would participate in the review.

Disputed versions of events

Meanwhile, the back and forth between complainants and officials who ran an initial investigation continue - with each insisting their version of events is correct, relating to emails sent and received.

Yesterday one of the three Labour Party officials who investigated complaints about the staffer told media through a statement he'd engaged a computer expert to prove he never received sexual assault allegations.

Through a lawyer, Mr Mitchell released a timeline of the inquiry and his interactions with the woman involved.

He said sexual assault was never raised with him and the forensic examination of his computer says any claim he was notified of such allegations by email are "untrue".

But the complainants who made the allegations have hit back, insisting they did present allegations of sexual assault to the party, both in person and through email.

They've released a timeline of emails sent to Mr Mitchell and other Labour Party members, in direct contradiction to the statements made by Mr Mitchell.


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