R v Worth

June 4th, 2009 at 9:24 am by David Farrar

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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45 Responses to “R v Worth”

  1. themono (132 comments) says:

    I’m impressed with Goff keeping that private rather than making a political football. It’s always sad when an MP’s private life gets dragged out, but in cases where the private life is not just “immoral” (note inverted commas) but illegal, then it has to come out.

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  2. s.russell (1,558 comments) says:

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

    I am not so sure about this. I seems to me that Key’s actions were both smart and honourable in ensuring that the sordid details did not come from his lips. He probably guessed it would all come out, but he quarantined himself from the grubbiness.

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  3. JC (904 comments) says:

    OK, the Indian excursion, the visit to the bashed taxidriver, the possible offer of political favours to the Labour Party woman and now this..

    Worth is showing some sort of compulsive behaviour that has either been been part of his makeup for years, or he’s in some sort of very public and recent meltdown. This guy wanted to be sacked!

    JC

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  4. wreck1080 (3,719 comments) says:

    Key came across as evasive. This is not exactly commercially sensitive information that needs protecting, and John Key should have given more information rather than let dribbles of rumour and innuendo trickle out over the day. I guess Key may still be having difficultly with the differences between the commercial and the political worlds.

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  5. Neil (555 comments) says:

    God help NZ if we get dragged into the bedroom/libido laden antics of an aged 61 year old.
    If Worth has any sense he will call it a day unless he wants to be savagely lampooned in the newspapers.
    However if Worth is innocent, personal damage has already be done.
    These “affairs” are a disgrace in the current political/economic situation.
    Worth was elected to help “run” the country not to engage in extracurricular activities.

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  6. Ryan Sproull (7,023 comments) says:

    Prime Minister John Key investigated claims that Internal Affairs Minister Richard Worth offered a woman a job for romantic favours

    Makes it sound like he wanted chocolates in a heart-shaped box.

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  7. Alan Wilkinson (1,812 comments) says:

    I agree with s.russell. Also Key acted responsibly and in a measured way with respect to both the police investigation and Worth’s right to a fair hearing in court on any allegations. Key’s political opponents and some journalists can mouth off to their heart’s content but the public will take his side.

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  8. Bok (740 comments) says:

    Wreck, a bit like Helen who knew for three months about the money given to peters? and only letting it dribble out when it became obvious that Glen was to blow the whistle? Mmm 3 months vs sacking the guy and then leaving it to the cops to investigate. Yep I can see how Helen set the example here.

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  9. Portia (204 comments) says:

    Clouds and silver linings –

    Because of Lockwood’s “Asianhand-gate” incident during the Election campaign, he lost his chance of a Cabinet appointment but got the “consolation prize” of speaker instead. A job he has since taken to like the proverbial duck-meets-water. Indeed, his scrupulous independence and efforts to clean up question time put him on track to become one of the most respected speakers in history.

    Who was tipped to be speaker before Lockwood got the nod? One Mr Richard Worth of Epsom.

    Losing a Cabinet minister to scandal is bad enough, but imagine the magnitude of John Key’s headache had these allegations been levelled at the Speaker of the House…

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  10. virtualmark (1,468 comments) says:

    JC, I kind of agree with your thoughts on “compulsive behaviour”.

    I struggle to believe that this is some totally new side of Richard Worth’s character that has only come on since the last election. If the current allegations are found to be true then I’d expect an investigation will likely uncover earlier bad behaviour as well. And for sure his performance in Egypt in 2002 showed a shockingly poor degree of political acumen and common sense.

    So it does raise a question to me of just how rigourous are the Nats’ due diligence checks on their candidates?

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  11. Poliwatch (335 comments) says:

    I have been involved in a number of employment issues where there is a need to act slower than what people want. I appreciate that this is political rather than strictly employment but you have to follow a certain amount of due process.

    Others around are usually well aware of the circumstances and are quick to jump to conclusions – more than often correct assumptions. But due process is needed and in doing so you become well aware of people saying, usually behind your back, “Why is he doing nothing?”, “Why is he allowing this person to do this?”, “Why do we have a weak leader”? etc etc. It is not a nice situation to be in but you have to remain focussed to get to the correct outcome based on the facts.

    If John Key was formerly known as the “smiling assassin” I think he will be well aware of the processes required, to arm himself with the facts and to ignore all the side comments on the way through. And when you act – do it decisively.

    Could he have been more forthcoming earlier in the day yesterday – no. Should he have been more discreet later in the day – perhaps. Should he have ever had Worth as a cabinet minister in the first place – no. Ministers need to be appointed on character as well as ability – and he had already made a number of mis-steps that should have ruled him out – others were ruled out for indiscretions.

    On the whole though Key acted decisively in this matter.

    Finally, Key should not appoint a new Minister but reallocate the portfolios among existing Ministers. Keep them busy John.

    It also looks like Phil Goff acted appropriately. Would he have acted any differently to Key if PM. Only if he followed Clark as an example. And he should have fronted up last night with Whale.

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  12. Right of way is Way of Right (1,129 comments) says:

    Mr Key is certainly not being evasive. When he is unable to speak to an issue due to reasons of appropriateness or otherwise, he has stated that. Where he can comment on an issue, he has done so.

    What the general public seem unable to comprehend here is that for the past 9 years, any comment regarding ministerial behaviour and/or suitability has been washed through innumerable ‘communications specialists’ (read, ‘Spin Doctors’) in order to allow the correct political outcome. The Taito Phillip Field inquiry with the extremely narrow terms of reference to elicit a pre-determined outcome is but one example!

    Rather than set up a inquiry, Mr Key has instead allowed the Police a clear run at this investigation, with no political oversight, and he appears willing to let the chips fall where they may! Instead of realising this, the media seem to be running off and trying to put their own spin on the issue, aided by the Labour Party.

    The simple fact of the matter is that there is no spin!

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  13. Jeff83 (769 comments) says:

    Have to say I am liking John Key more and more, one he is doing what he said he would putting him a limited group of politicans who have done so. 2, he is doing what the public expect of their PM, i.e. setting high examples. Even the thing with the Hillary children and the Auckland Museum, whilst maybe not the biggest thing in terms of effecting everyone he did what people would of liked to happen.

    As a side note completely agree re Lockwood, is seems he found his calling when he got that post, compare to the abomination before him (my god she was bad) its a nice restorement of faith in politicians tbh.

    And this is coming from someone slightly from the left.

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  14. Right of way is Way of Right (1,129 comments) says:

    Jeff, I agree re Lockwood. His appointment nicely underscores just how abominable his predecessor actually was!

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  15. wreck1080 (3,719 comments) says:

    Right Of Way: He was evasive.

    JK said Worth handed in his resignation because of personal reasons. This immediately makes you feel sympathy to Worth. Maybe he has cancer. Or, maybe someone in his family is sick.

    JK could easily have said that Worth is resigning due to criminal charges being laid against him.

    Apart from not being up front yesterday, JK has handled this pretty well. He has obviously spent a few days investigating the matter before making a public statement.

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  16. alex Masterley (1,489 comments) says:

    Portia, well said. the previous speaker was crap. I pity the poor students at Waikato University Law School.

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  17. themono (132 comments) says:

    Well….. Worth described them as personal matters, Key’s quote was “He advised me of some private matters in respect of which he felt it appropriate that he should resign as a Minister. I accepted his resignation and have advised the Governor-General accordingly.”

    There’s a subtle distinction between personal issues and private matters. Somewhat evasive, but not as bad as it could be by any means.

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  18. david (2,531 comments) says:

    Wreck1080
    There have not been any “criminal charges laid against him” so the PM would have lied if he followed your advice.

    And if you think trial in the Court of Public Opinion is a desirable option, think back to Veitch and reconsider. Much better to deprive the leering masses of their titillation and let the justice process grind its way through this.

    At least the 1080 part of your nickname is appriopriate, come to think of it the “wreck” sounds about right too

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  19. Bok (740 comments) says:

    Let us have a little comparrison.
    This on Feb 26 2006
    “Feminist Prime Minister Helen Clark is backing her middle-aged white male cabinet minister David Benson-Pope over claims that he walked in on 14-year-old girls changing in the dorm on a school camp and in the shower.

    That’s apparently because “Labour does not consider the latest allegations to be any more serious than those investigated last year, and has decided to “tough it out” until the row dies down”.

    Benson-Pope furiously denied those claims too. But the police found prima facie against him but didn’t prosecute because of their historical nature.

    Helen Clark has discovered a new principle of criminal justice: if you are investigated for one crime, and found on the evidence to have likely have done it, you don’t need to worry about anything else you might have done because you have already been investigated.”

    Or this http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10370245 (i’ll just paste the headline
    “PM backs Benson-Pope over shower girls’ claims”

    (I ask myself if for labour supporters here, maybe children are not as vulnerable as an adult woman and if that is why the rules are different.)

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  20. adc (534 comments) says:

    why do the media insist on categorising the complainant as a “Korean” businesswoman.

    WTF does that have to do with anything where she’s from? Or are the media just trying to cash in on current Korean (North) hysteria about the latest nuclear tests?

    Is that so we can associate her with Kim Jong Il or something? I mean really, why don’t they just omit that word, it’s irrelevant, and by including it, they appear to propose there is some relevance to her race.

    Sad sad sad.

    And as for conflicts of interest – you’d expect a senior lawyer to know about those, and know why he should avoid them. Sounds like alzheimers is kicking in big time, and he therefore does have personal reasons to leave – complete incompetence.

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  21. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    I’m impressed with Goff keeping that private rather than making a political football. It’s always sad when an MP’s private life gets dragged out, but in cases where the private life is not just “immoral” (note inverted commas) but illegal, then it has to come out.

    Except that he is making a political football of it now. If he has proof, that Worth behaved inappropriately to another women then he should table the evidence or shut up – all he is trying to do is attach himself to the current situation in a ‘I told you so’ fashion. The majority of the public are thinking John Key has acted very well during this, Phil In Goff just wants to try and take some shine off by making unsubstantiated accusations. Also this other women (the Labour activist) – if she feels Worth displayed inappropriate behaviour, then she needs to lodge a complaint! At worst it could be a case of sexual harrassment.

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  22. Alan Wilkinson (1,812 comments) says:

    adc, I think the point is that Worth has had a long association with Korean business organisations.

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  23. He-Man (270 comments) says:

    I can’t wait for it to all come out! Another Plumley-Walker scenario perhaps?

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  24. insider (999 comments) says:

    WOnder what stories will come out of the law firm WOrth used to chair?

    Key should have recognised that this would all come out very quickly and so either said up front that there is a police investigation and that is all he can say – him saying anything else would be inappropriate, or laid it out in full and got it over. Letting it drip out looked a bit confused. but I doubt it will harm him except amongst those who are already strongly Labour.

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  25. Jeff83 (769 comments) says:

    “If he has proof, that Worth behaved inappropriately to another women then he should table the evidence or shut up ”

    My understanding is that he has passed on that proof already to Key, in the form of texts. As DPF stated however it was by way of innuendo – so not explicit but implied- that is my understanding.

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  26. david (2,531 comments) says:

    Jeff83
    There are doubts that Goff had the texts as he has said that they were “read out” to him. All getting a bit thin and heresay which would lead any manager who was loyal to his troops and expected equal loyalty in return, to take it very carefully and see due process through absolutely.

    IMHO, this is what Key has done.

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  27. tvb (4,192 comments) says:

    Goff’s complaint was a trap set for John Key. If Worth lied to the PM about his conduct Goff would have been in like a robbers’ dog and caused real trouble for the PM. I trust this position was made abundantly clear to Worth when the “Goff complaint” was investigated. This more recent matter involving the police could be more serious for Worth. I feel sorry for the complainant if her name is now well known. That should not have happened and it will now make things very difficult to her. Now every female lawyer who could have had contact with Worth will be the subject of curiosity.

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  28. wynkie (86 comments) says:

    On a logical basis, assuming Farrar and the Herald are correct in their assertions the claimant is a Korean female lawyer who is Auckland based, then surely a simple search of the Auckland District Law Society website should produce some results? Three in fact who fit that description, using their knowledge of the Korean language as a search term:

    Hyung-Hwa Chang – Bell Gully
    Somee Chung -Focus Law
    Hyun (Nicole) Jung Lee – Focus Law

    [DPF: They may not be a lawyer as I stated. The person whom I was told was the complainant has denied it is her. But it may still be someone of that general description. In time we will know!]

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  29. themono (132 comments) says:

    I’m not sure it matters, nor that I care, wynkie.

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  30. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    wynkie is it really important to know the victims name BEFORE the Police have finished investigating?

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  31. Jeff83 (769 comments) says:

    david Wouldnt disagree with you there, in my opinion both have acted well in regards to this incident and I think it is positive.

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  32. village idiot (748 comments) says:

    Worth, despicable (probably), Key, sneaky (definately)

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  33. backster (2,067 comments) says:

    Regarding the GOFF complaint it appears to consist of only sleazy innuendo and raises the question, did the Liabour Dirty tricks brigade search for a minister with a reputation for a bit of sleaze especially one who’s job was already on the line and arrange a honeypot to attract him. With the Liabour activist then not prepared to follow through John KEY had no option but to simply warn the minister what would happen if he got proof… Unintentionally the Liabour Activist was probably indirectly responsible for the offence which has now led to the Police Enquiry.

    I note the Village Idiot appears to support WORTH, birds of a feather stick together.

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  34. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    That this wacker lasted in the party for the length of time he did shows how utterly useless National are.

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  35. toad (3,668 comments) says:

    Remember Richard Worth’s “I don’t have a clear erection” comment in Parliament back at the end of March.

    Seems there may have been much more to it than anyone thought at the time.

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  36. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    For those who appreciated the irony in Graham Capill’s fall from grace after lecturing the country on morality, I give you

    Dr Richard Worth in “Newsworthy” No. 248, 28 October 2008:

    Law and Order in Epsom
    The Government’s claim that there has been no significant increase in crime are completely wrong.
    The statistics show that there is now:
    § A violent crime every 9 ½ minutes
    § A sexual attack every 3 ½ hours
    § A robbery every 3 ½ hours

    In Epsom which is part of the Auckland City Eastern Police area the statistics are:
    § overall crime is up 11% since 1999/2000
    § violence is up 16% in the last year, and 34% since 1999/2000
    § property damage is up 42% since 1999/2000
    § violence by youth (14-16 year olds) is up 144% since 1999/2000

    So whilst the economy might be a key issue in the election so is deteriorating law and order.

    National’s policies include making our communities safer by ensuring the worse repeat violent offenders are not eligible for parole. But they go far wider than that across issues such as victims rights, DNA testing of arrested persons, clamping down on gangs, strengthening bail laws and youth justice.

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  37. toad (3,668 comments) says:

    @Ratbiter 12:55pm “§ A sexual attack every 3 ½ hours”

    Wonder how many of them were committed by Worth?

    [DPF: That steps over the line]

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  38. toad (3,668 comments) says:

    Sorry, couldn’t resist it.

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  39. david (2,531 comments) says:

    Got it wrong Toad, it is usually a leftie posting on Kiwiblog having the attack rather than committing it.

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  40. petal (704 comments) says:

    “Romantic favours”

    When are we going to drop the euphenisms and call it was it is?

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  41. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    That this wacker lasted in the party for the length of time he did shows how utterly useless National are.

    At long last! A redbaiter comment that I agree with!

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  42. trout (898 comments) says:

    Now Goff admits he does not have E-mails or copies thereof but there are ‘many, many, (salacious) text messages’ of which none can be produced. He is a bit like an Italian war tank; 1 gear forward and 3 in reverse. Be assured that if any of Goff’s allegations were provable the labour party would have handed the material over to Trev the muss when they had Worth on the back foot over his busines dealings, and Trev would have delivered the king hit. Methinks the Labour Party is now turning victory into defeat; Worth has gone; they have his scalp; but Goff’s efforts to grandstand have now backfired and seriously damaged his credibility.

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  43. Hump (25 comments) says:

    Someone should teach village idiot to spell.
    The reality is that a cabinet minister should have a higher standard of care than any normal member of society. The statement by Worth that he has committed no crime is irrelevant.
    How refreshing for John Key to state that there is no way back. All current ministers are on notice. Under Labour pugilists, drunken drivers et al were forgiven their lapses and allowed back. They were not worthy of ministerial responsibility at any stage.

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  44. trout (898 comments) says:

    Goff has now tabled a statement from his female complainant in Parliament. Note that this is a ‘statement’ and not (apparently) an affadavit and it is protected by priviledge. So the Labour minions have twisted the woman’s arm to get Phil off the hook, she signs a statement (probably prepared for her – the press will of course lap up anything steamy) being reassured that Worth cannot sue. Still no evidence – E-mails or text records. Key has confirmed he would have sacked Worth if evidence had been produced to justify the original allegation; and Worth is now sacked. Could somebody tell Phil.

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  45. adc (534 comments) says:

    texts are all logged and archived at Vodafone and Telecom for years.

    The police commonly get warrants to trawl through the text archives.

    So those texts will certainly be available to police investigating this. I’m sure they already have them.

    Keep that in mind anyone planning naughty things on text…

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