Sexual assault claim against party tests New Zealand leader

Elias Hubbard
September 11, 2019

Labour Party President Nigel Haworth's resignation was announced just before midday on Wednesday, as the fiasco around allegations of assault by a Labour Party staffer.

National Party leader Simon Bridges is questioning whether Jacinda Ardern has been open about how much she knew about an alleged sexual assault by a Labour Party staff member.

But she said she was provided some of the correspondence from complainants written to the party today and it had confirmed that the allegations were "extremely serious" and that the process caused complainants additional distress.

The alleged victim told the Spinoff she reported the 2018 assault to senior Labour party members past year, including Haworth, but that they failed to act, and cleared the man of six separate complaints after conducting an internal investigation.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told the complainants she apologises for the way Labour has dealt with the accusations.

The Prime Minister said she's waiting on an independent QC report to decide what to do, but has maintained that when she was first told about the allegations she specifically asked if they were sexual or physical and was told they were not.

Ardern has said she was never made aware by her party members that the complaints were sexual in nature, despite asking repeatedly.

"Whilst he stands by the statements he made on this matter, I believe mistakes were made", she said.

An internal party investigation recommended no action against the man and Haworth argued as recently as Tuesday that the complainant did not inform him about the seriousness of the allegations.

New Zealand Labour party president Nigel Haworth.

She reiterated a willingness to meet with the complainants and said she would arrange a meeting if that was what they wanted.

"On behalf of the Labour Party I apologise to the complainants for the way this matter has been dealt with". "I will take steps to make that offer available to them if they wish to take it up".

Haworth had been under significant pressure following a detailed account of the alleged victim's experience published by The Spinoff, and despite initially denying that any allegation of a sexual nature had been raised during the party's investigation, he has now fallen on his sword.

"I also want to assure myself that appropriate victim support and advocacy have been put in place around the complainants".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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