R v Worth

The Herald reveals some more details of the criminal complaint:

The person who complained to the police about former Government minister is an Auckland businesswoman, and her allegation is of a sexual nature.

Her identity is now fairly well known. She is a lawyer, which suggests a complaint alleging criminal offending would not be made lightly.

The alleged offending is, as I understand it, at the more serious end of the scale. But I do not have first hand knowledge of this.

The Herald has learned the woman approached a National MP’s office “to update the PM” after going to the police two weeks ago.

A friend of the woman said last night that she was distressed but pleased police were investigating.

“She has faith in the police process and trust in the Prime Minister that nobody is above the law,” the friend said.

The Herald has agreed not to reveal the identity of the woman, the friend, or her associates.

The friend said the Korean woman told him “she had reported to the police alleging inappropriate behaviour by a minister towards her”.

I hope the Police investigate quickly, but thoroughly.

Mr Key said his office was contacted by a third party on Tuesday last week, two days before the Budget.

A member of his staff had investigated, and Tuesday night this week was the first time he [the PM] had spoken to Dr Worth about it.

“I think I acted as fast as I could,” he said. “People are entitled to a degree of natural justice … It took some time to get all the information that was required.”

Considering the long weekend, I am not surprised it took a few days to gather the facts.

Mr Key said Dr Worth should use the two weeks of leave he started yesterday to consult family and friends on his future as a member of Parliament.

Dr Worth is a list MP who lives in Epsom. If he resigned from Parliament, he would be replaced by the next person on the National Party list, Devonport dentist Cam Calder.

If I was Cam Calder I would not be planning any overseas trips in the near future.

John Armstrong writes:

Messy, messy. Seeing Richard Worth being dumped from his ministerial role yesterday was like watching a slow strangulation as the nature of the allegation made against him became more and more apparent during the day.

Worth’s alleged sins are not going to damage the Government in any serious fashion. has made sure of that.

By questioning whether the National MP can remain in Parliament even as an irrelevant backbencher, the Prime Minister has effectively quarantined his now-former Internal Affairs Minister from the rest of the National Party.

I agree. Also Key’s body language and tone makes it very clear that he is offended, even disgusted, by what is alleged.

What went awry for Key yesterday was his seemingly futile attempt to avoid disclosing the reasons for Worth’s “resignation”.

Which I was critical of also.

Key is proving to be an even tougher disciplinarian than his predecessor, Helen Clark. She fired plenty of ministers, but in most cases indicated there was a road back into the inner sanctum after a suitable period of penance.

Worth received no such reassurance yesterday morning. He has yet to be charged with any crime. But he was not given the option of a stand-down from his portfolios while the matter was investigated.

Quite the opposite. Key was blunt. If Worth had not resigned, he would have sacked him for failing to meet the high standards set by the Prime Minister for his ministerial colleagues.

Rough justice perhaps. But politics dictate that Key deal with the matter promptly and decisively. With some reservations, he has.

Yep. No stand down. No path back. In fact a strong suggestion that he should leave Parliament.

Colin Espiner covers a different allegation against Richard Worth that raised with John Key around a month ago:

Prime Minister John Key investigated claims that Internal Affairs Minister Richard Worth offered a woman a job for romantic favours a month before police began investigating other serious allegations against him. …

Key confirmed he had received earlier allegations that involved Worth making a nuisance of himself with women.

Labour leader Phil Goff said he had privately raised concerns with Key last month about allegations regarding Worth’s “inappropriate political … and sexual behaviour” towards a woman. It was a separate matter to the one currently before police.

“The allegations were essentially that Dr Worth had offered a number of different positions that were within his gift as minister to this woman, with the overtones that this was in pursuit of romantic ambitions,” Goff said.

“One was as an adviser and one was as a board member within the responsibilities of Dr Worth but the overtones were that he wanted to develop a relationship with her,” Mr Goff said on Radio New Zealand.

Goff had told Key there was evidence to suggest “inappropriate” suggestions were made in a series of emails and phone calls.

“Why I went to the prime minister is that I’d received a complaint from a woman that I knew, who is a member of the Labour party so I’ll put that right out front, but I didn’t believe her allegations were politically motivated,” Goff told Breakfast.

Goff did the right thing in raising the matter privately.He was also probably counting on John Key behaving better than Helen Clark did when she had an Opposition Party Leader raise an issue privately about a Minister (Prebble re Samuels) – Clark attacked the party leader for raising the allegation with her.

Key said he had investigated the complaints but decided there was no need to pursue the matters.

“I have had someone bring an allegation to me of that nature … and all I can say is I treated that allegation seriously. I investigated it and I was satisfied with the answers I received,” he said.

As I understand it, the later alleged offending is far far more serious than the earlier matter.  Goff says that the “overtone” of Worth’s conversations with the Labour Party member was wanting a relationship in exchange. This suggests it was not explicit and couldn’t be proven.

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