30 Mar 2011

Goff facing more questions over Hughes affair

2:37 pm on 30 March 2011

Labour Party leader Phil Goff will face further questions about his handling of the Darren Hughes affair this weekend, despite saying he has the full support of his senior MPs.

The party's National Council will meet on Saturday and Mr Goff has said he plans to attend.

Police are investigating a complaint made against Mr Hughes by an 18-year-old man. Mr Hughes, 32, and insists he has done nothing wrong and is co-operating with the inquiry.

Since the list MP's resignation from Parliament last Friday, Mr Goff has been repeatedly questioned over his decision to keep quiet about the sexual assault complaint against Mr Hughes until the matter came out in the media.

Mr Goff knew about the complaint two weeks before it became public. He says he could have sacrificed Mr Hughes right at the beginning which would have been easier to do politically.

"I don't believe that would have been right; I don't believe that that would have served the interests of justice.

"And if I had my time again, I wouldn't have sacrificed somebody the privacy around it for the complainant, the right to justice of the person complained against or the interference with the police process."

Mr Goff says political opponents have tried to destabilise Labour by generating rumours of a leadership coup - but in fact, that has made the party stronger.

Labour president Andrew Little will be stepping down at Saturday's meeting and says the discussion could be robust because the matter has begun to damage the party.

No leadership coup, says Parker

Senior list MP David Parker says no matter how Mr Goff dealt with the police inquiry, it was always going to be a firestorm for the Labour Party.

Mr Goff met with frontbench MPs on Tuesday for the first time since Darren Hughes resigned.

Mr Parker attended the meeting in Dunedin and says the attacks on Mr Goff claiming that there was a leadership coup were wrong.

Mr Parker told Morning Report on Wednesday it was suggested that he was one of the people behind such a move, but he has never heard a hint of a coup and it was simply being pushed by political opponents.

The MP said what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and Mr Goff has come out stronger with the support of his frontbench.