ODT on Hughes affair

June 12th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

People who hold positions of high office can expect scrutiny over behaviour that might be said in some respect to impact or reflect upon the performance of public duty. And a police investigation certainly exceeds any objective minimum threshold for justifiable public interest, which is why the original handling of the matter by the Labour Party leadership was, and is, inexplicable. …

It will be recalled Mr Hughes, some days after the news of the investigation broke, stepped down from his position as senior whip; then, as the furore grew and details leaked into the public domain, he resigned from Parliament. Had his leader, Phil Goff, played a more decisive and firmer hand earlier, it is quite possible Mr Hughes would now be able to resume his place in the House; had Mr Goff, for instance, announced to Parliament and to the people of New Zealand, as soon as he became aware of it, that Mr Hughes was facing a police investigation over an allegation and was immediately standing aside until the investigation was complete, the way for his rapid rehabilitation might still be open.

There is a near universal consensus that Darren would probably still be an MP today, if Phil Goff had handled the issue better. That’s bitter medicine for Labour MPs to reflect upon over the next few months. Their own leader effectively robbed them of one their most popular and effective MPs.

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38 Responses to “ODT on Hughes affair”

  1. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Why blame Goff?

    Hughes has a history of preditory behaviour when on the piss, he should have been reined in long ago and told to piss off prior to this latest event.

    This is all very NZ at the moment, blame everybody else but Hughes himself, nobody but Dazz put himself in this postion.

    DPF are you happy with a person who behaves in this manner sitting in our Parliament?

    If this type of person is “popular and effective,” you people in wellington need to get out more.o be p

    [DPF: I don’t know what happened on the night in question to comment in detail. Certainly Darren acted at least unwisely with his decisions that night. And I think the predator label is unfair. I have seen some male MPs hit on dozens and dozens of female staffers, and if unwanted advances is going to be a litmus test for Parliament, there might be a few less MPs]

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  2. rosscalverley (83 comments) says:

    Does he? Where is the proof?

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  3. metcalph (1,433 comments) says:

    I’m not so sure Darren would have remained an MP even if Goff had aced handling the affair.

    His refrain that he has done nothing wrong indicates a rather worrying lack of insight into his actions (ie Chris Carter levels). If he had said he had behaved unwisely only then he would have survived.

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  4. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Does he? Where is the proof?……….

    Yes, he does Ross, please keep up, that Otago University education is appearing to be wasted

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  5. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    Does he? Where is the proof?

    The proof ross is the simple plain bald obvious FACT a naked 18 year old straight male was found traumatized after something happened in that house.

    Either you blame the young man or you blame someone else in that house, for that FACT. So which do you prefer to attach blame to? The Liarbore Party through its support for Hughes has by definition blamed the young man. Do you share their view?

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  6. iMP (2,420 comments) says:

    If a Labour Party “star” with “massive potential” and “P. Ministerial possibilities” (to quote Taria Turia) is widely known to have predatorial sexual inclinations when intoxicated, then I despair for parliamentary integrity and the moral flakiness of NZ.

    A trend many are watching in the USA, is the Palin capture of core Conservatism in the USA (ie paying more than flaky lip service to core values) and whether the Republican Party will shackle its wagon to her bolting thoroughbred. It seems middle America (deeply conservative) is totally fed up with the Weiner syndrome (Repub or Democrat) which is why Gingrich is dead in the water.

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  7. djg (72 comments) says:

    Does anyone think the complainant may have acted differently in the aftermath if Hughes had remained?

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  8. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    Popular he may well be (read party animal), but effective? I think not DPF.
    If he was effective (read competant) he would not be in the pickle he finds himself.
    There is an 18yo somehere in NZ scratching his head in bemusment, and wondering how he got into this mess, but we know how, it was by being lead into an unsavoury situation by a MP of NZ’s house of representatives, thats how.
    Effective???? not by any stretch of the imagination.
    I am with Pauleastbay on this one. Hughes only has himself to blame.

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  9. burt (8,312 comments) says:

    I agree, Hughes made this mess himself. Anybody half way reasonable knows that getting 18 year olds drunk and naked can have unpredictable repercussions.

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  10. PaulP (155 comments) says:

    I am no fan of Goff BUT I put more of the blame as to how the situation was handled on Hughes. Surely IF he had gone to Goff and said he thought he should stand down pending the outcome of any investigation then that’s is likely to have been how it was handled.

    The pretend nothing happened and hope it goes away I put down to Hughes convincing Goff he had nothing to answer for without Hughes considering the best political strategy.

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  11. Brian Harmer (687 comments) says:

    I agree with Metcalph (it had to happen sooner or later) … and with the lawyer for the youth involved. Darren has by no means been “cleared” of anything. The police were very deliberate in their choice of language when they said prosecution would not proceed. I have no knowledge at all of what happened at Miramar, but I think his political career is irretrievably tainted.

    And to be honest I wonder if others who have come in from the cold (Colin Moyle?) think that they ever really escaped the cloud of suspicion.

    Goff made a pigs ear of it with the media for sure, but the basic recipe (Darren, party, young man, nakedness, add media and stir) was irretrievably toxic. I repeat that I am making no accusations. Perceptions count for everything in terms of political reputation.

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  12. Chris R (70 comments) says:

    Pauleastbay is right. The culpability rests with Hughes alone. Goof is an all round idiot so it is a bit rich to expect him to behave firmly in this instance. Hughes is a despicable liar without scruples. How could anyone outside Labour have the brazen audacity to state that the complaint was false. The Police didn’t.
    It is so easy to despise Labour. WO is gearing up to euthanase the lot of the pathetic losers.

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  13. backster (2,184 comments) says:

    Perhaps the Fat Lady has not quite reached the chorus if these rather restrained words by the victims lawyers in todays ‘Stuff’ are any indication.

    “But Wellington barrister Les Taylor, one of several lawyers acting for the complainant, told the Sunday Star-Times Hughes’ comments were incorrect. “I saw that in his statement and I thought it was a very unwise thing for him to say, frankly,” he said.

    Police said they had no concerns about the validity of the complaint made against Hughes.”

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  14. Pongo (374 comments) says:

    Hughes may be a personable sort of a guy but at the end of the day there was a naked 18 year old trying to escape and on any level you care to mention Hughes is not fit to be in parliament.
    The coppers couldnt get enough evidence to prosecute so strictly Hughes is innocent but I dont think his behaviour id defendable

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  15. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    Thank Christ Paul Henry knows exactly what happened that night, according to Stuff.

    He must have been there eh? Or is only prepared to accept Hughes version, I wonder if he would be prepared to open his closed mind, should the Hughes version be proven to be crap?

    To the legal beagles out there in Kiwiblog land, is it permissable for the complainant to bring civil action against Hughes?

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  16. john.bt (170 comments) says:

    As for Hughes being an effective MP, he managed to lose a strong Labour seat because he wasn’t an effective MP. Too much time socialising in Wellington and could not be bothered dealing with the problems of his constituents. I recall a letter to the Dompost from a guy complaining that Hughes could not even reply to a letter from him and I am aware of others who were also ignored.

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  17. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    Now you are getting to the nub of the matter john.bt.
    He obviously has the ability to charm those within the beltway, I guess through his “social” skills, but the voters are not so easily deluded. Thank goodness.

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  18. Chris R (70 comments) says:

    John bt:You are so right. Hughes did stuff up a sound majority in Horowhenua.

    The 18 year old can either bring a civil suit or attempt a private prosecution. Either course will require cogent evidence which may be difficult to obtain and employ. Good luck to him if he can do so though.

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  19. davidp (3,587 comments) says:

    If you’re sick of NZ’s own parliamentary sex pest, take a minute to watch a video reading of some of Anthony Weiner’s penis-related messaging:

    http://gawker.com/5810967/bill-maher-and-jane-lynch-give-dramatic-reading-of-weiners-dirty-facebook-messages

    [DPF: Wonderful]

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  20. Manolo (14,044 comments) says:

    There is a near universal consensus that Darren would probably still be an MP today..

    Putting aside Goff’s atrocious management of this issue, I do not believe NZ would be well served by having “Paree” Hughes in Parliament today.

    He showed very poor judgement controlling his sexual impulses and seems to be a disaster waiting to happen. It’s only a matter of time.

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  21. Pete George (23,682 comments) says:

    As for Hughes being an effective MP, he managed to lose a strong Labour seat because he wasn’t an effective MP. Too much time socialising in Wellington and could not be bothered dealing with the problems of his constituents.

    Lack of MP commitment to electorates is a common public complaint, but how common is it? How may are committed more to their party (and personal lives) than their electorate?

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  22. BeaB (2,144 comments) says:

    This was all Hughes own fault and he should have known better. There is no excuse at all for him, however inept Goff was.

    I am sick and tired of hearing how wonderful Dirty Darren was. To me he is a man with grubby habits, little judgment and a big ego – a dreadful combination for anyone who aspires to leadership. I hope we never see him back on our payroll.

    Just remember that teenager had only just started at university. A few months earlier he was still at school. Would it have been OK then for Hughes to have filled him up with booze and taken him home with him?

    Voters didn’t want Hughes – he was a darling of the Labour Party who are starved for younger MPs.

    And now Annette King, who lived downstairs, tells us she heard nothing. I can hear those piggy wings.

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  23. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    Just wondering what would have happened if the 18 year old had been a woman…

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  24. backster (2,184 comments) says:

    BEA:::::::::Only it wasn’t this loud mouthed woman who is hard to shut up who told us she was asleep and heard nothing. It was the Labour Party Chief Of Staff talking for her.

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  25. KH (695 comments) says:

    DPF….. You are out of touch. Maybe to much time spent inside the rarefied atmosphere of the politicians.
    Mallard and co have a distorted sense of entitlement for the same reason.
    So Hughes was not charged. And maybe not convictable. It does not mean there is no problem.

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  26. Sean (301 comments) says:

    “That’s bitter medicine for Labour MPs to reflect upon over the next few months. Their own leader effectively robbed them of one their most popular and effective MPs.”

    No, Labour MPs did it to themselves. None of them are yet prepared to roll Goff until after the election they know they will lose unless they roll Goff. They are so self-serving they were prepared to see Hughes fall rather than act to save him. The irony is that it could be one of them next and no one would do anything to save that person either.

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  27. Zulu (19 comments) says:

    @ Reid “The proof ross is the simple plain bald obvious FACT a naked 18 year old straight male was found traumatized after something happened in that house.”
    It’s pretty clear that the 18 year old lost a game of Strip Jack* Naked and panicked – rushing from the house, not knowing what game Dazza would be proposing next …
    * name changed to protect the innocent

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  28. Chuck Bird (4,923 comments) says:

    “Just wondering what would have happened if the 18 year old had been a woman…”

    The MP would have been charged and almost certainly convicted.

    If the complaint and his family chooses to do a private prosecution I will pledge $1000.

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  29. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (852 comments) says:

    I have to say I am astonished by you on this one DPF. I know that you are really committed to being an insider, but really! I mean really!

    A naked 18 year old flees a drunken senior MP and former Minister, and you are telling us what a great guy he is.

    Bloody hell, I think you might have sold your soul on this one.

    Hughes was not cleared. The subsequent police statement is crystal clear on that point. Something happened, and a scared teenager fled naked into the night.

    Now you may think that Hughes is a great guy. But he has form, he seems to be unable to control his drinking, and there are widespread rumours that he hits on young men while pissed. Is this the sort of person who you or Labour think is a “leader” or a “role model”?

    Drunk senior politicians are not positive role models. Drunks who hit on teenagers in particular. I am surprised you seem to struggle on this point DPF. Whether or not Phil Goff did the right thing or not, this is everything to do with Darren Hughes’ inability to control his urges.

    Clearly DPF is holding Goff to a higher standard than he is prepared to hold himself to. Interesting. What if Goff used the same thought process that DPF did? Hughes is a good bloke, he has lots of potential, he is the anointed one of H1. When not pissed and on the pull he is charming and witty. Would DPF have forced his mate Darren to resign, or would he hope it would blow over?

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  30. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    he is the anointed one of H1

    Well he was nigel. I’m afraid it’s Jacinda now. You see Darren fucked up by revealing his careful training before he had achieved any position whereby he could cover it up. Jacinda sure won’t make that mistake.

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  31. lilman (966 comments) says:

    Mr Hughes wasnt found not guilty or innocent.
    All the police have said is that charges wont be laid as there is insufficient evidence to support a charge.
    I would not crow if I were Mr Hughes or the labour party.
    But still he should be happy for if it were my son who was found naked in the street in the early morning and he was found to have a valid compliant ,that was unable to proceed to court for the above reason hell would freeze over before I stopped in my efforts to get Mr Hughes vesrion up close and personal.
    So yes be happy Mr Hughes your got one thing correct,you didnt choose one of my family members,so be happy and know that if your happy ,then someone is sad.
    But you may have been telling the truth,guess only 2 people know that.

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  32. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    Where is the evidence there was a naked man?

    Where is the evidence there was a naked man in Hataitai on the night in question?

    Where is the evidence the ‘naked man’ was anything to do with whatever went on between Hughes and the young man?

    Naked Man has become embedded into the Hughes-student story that it’s repeated as fact, and it seems some of the media think that if they keep repeating it it will become fact.

    Yet Naked Man is the product of reporting by two Fairfax journalists who reported that they had spoken to people in a shop who quoted their boss as seeing a naked youth who flagged down a police patrol. But who spoke to him?

    A TV3 reporter said he spoke to two people who said they had been jogging on what might have been the morning in question, and that they had seen a naked man flagging down a police patrol. But they never spoke to him.

    So, if there was a Naked Man, who connected him to Darren Hughes? If he didn’t, because no-one spoke to him, did some of the media ask 2+2, and came up with… what… 7?

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  33. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    So if this was the case TW then why didn’t Hughes come straight out and say: “I don’t know this man, I have never seen this man, I don’t know what he’s talking about.”

    IIRC, he didn’t say that, so given the consequence was the end of his political career, one would think Darren would be keen to grasp any straw at all, yet he didn’t grasp that simple yet obvious straw: the old, “I’ve never seen this man before” trick.

    Did he.

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  34. niggly (831 comments) says:

    TW – yes, I hear you.

    The naked man might have been the complainant in question. Then again he might not. After all, no independant witnesses have (publically) been able to identify/confirm the naked man’s identity. And at the time the Police didn’t comment (publically/in the media) on the naked man reports by witnesses.

    But here’s a thought. The Police also DID NOT DENY the naked man was linked to Darren Hughes.

    Think about it. We have a situation involving a high ranking former cabinet minister, in which a complaint was laid against him (Darren Hughes) of a sexual nature. This is a very “explosive” situation for the Police to be handling (eg high profile, politician, “credible” politician at that, no previous convictions etc etc). On the other hand, we have eye witness reports of a naked man flagging down a Police patrol (or the Police patrol sent to investigate reports of a naked man etc).

    Now if there was no connection between the Darren Hughes complaint and a naked man, and as mentioned above the “explosive” situation the Police found themselves in, wouldn’t the Police at the very least issue a statement saying something like:

    “The Police are not able to comment on the complaint laid against Darren Hughes as this is subject to a formal Police investigation which is ongoing – however we wish to clarify there was no connection with reports of a naked man seen in the vicinity and this investigation into MP Darren Hughes”….

    But the Police didn’t, so could that mean that there was a link with the naked man and the Darren Hughes complainant …..

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  35. Jim (35 comments) says:

    what are Hughes’ main strenghts and achievements other than recruiting top-floor patrons?

    labour is suffering a dearth of telent because people were advanced because of loyalty rather than a proven record of performance.

    he has been in parliament long enough to show his mantle. what ministers does he keep on their toes? who has he laid a glove on at question time?

    If he had good judgemnt, he would have insisted on standing down. get your retaliation in first!

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  36. Clint Heine (1,571 comments) says:

    He may very well be a very nice, funny and charming young man – but if this happened to a Nat MP he would be drummed out of Wellington and ridiculed by the left for all eternity. Don’t be too kind on the lad, as far as I know if you start getting people drunk and try a move on them – you get what you deserve.

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  37. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    To Reid and Niggly:

    You’d be better to ask those questions of either Darren Hughes or the police, than of me.

    As far as I know the police issued only two statements on this affair: one confirming that they were investigating, and the other that they had finished investigating and that no charges would be laid.

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  38. lilman (966 comments) says:

    Typwriter,you wanker enough said.
    Pledge card tosser Im thinking.

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