Double Standards?

July 18th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Danya Levy at the Dom Post reports:

Prime Minister John Key says the Government was powerless to stop disgraced former minister Richard Worth being re-appointed as Monaco’s honorary consul to New Zealand.

Worth was reappointed to the position last October.

In 2009, he resigned from Parliament after sexual allegations against him by two women. He was never charged over the alleged incidents.

Key said Worth held the position before becoming a minister in his Government but resigned because of conventions protecting potential conflicts of interests.

The government of Monaco had approached New Zealand to have him reappointed when he was no longer a minister.

”The important point here is that it is nothing to do with me, it’s who do the people of Monaco want to represent them here in New Zealand and the answer is Richard Worth,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully had sought a legal opinion over whether the Government could prevent his re-appointment, Key said. However, the Government was advised it had no grounds to stop it.

Richard Worth was the Consul for Monaco for many years before he became a Minister. It is no surprise they asked him to resume the role after he left Parliament.

What I find interesting is the massive difference in reporting around Darren Hughes and Richard Worth. Both men were accused of sexual crimes, and in both cases no charges were laid. In the case of Darren Hughes, the media report that he could stand again for Parliament in a few years

Yet when it comes to Richard Worth, the reporting suggests there is something wrong that he has got on with his life after Parliament and assumed one of his former roles – a role far far less publicly significant than standing for Parliament again.

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Worth v Hughes

March 25th, 2011 at 12:58 pm by David Farrar

Mydeology has done a comparison of how four blogs covered the Worth scandal in 2009 and the Highes scandal of 2011, by counting up the number of posts they made over the first two days on the scandal. Their findings:

  • The Standard – 11 posts on Worth, 1 on Hughes
  • Tumeke – 6 posts on Worth, 1 on Hughes
  • Kiwiblog – 5 posts on Worth, 5 on Hughes
  • Whale Oil – 6 posts on Worth, 11 on Hughes

Their conclusions:

  • Pro-Labour blogs will comment heavily (5 or more articles) when a scandal is anti-National, but very lightly (less than two articles) in comparison when it is an anti-Labour scandal.
  • Right-wing blogs will comment heavily when a scandal is anti-National, and heavily when it is anti-Labour.
  • Pro-Labour blogs produce around 10 anti-National scandal articles to every one anti-Labour scandal article.
  • Right-wing blogs produce between 1-2 anti-Labour scandal articles to every one anti-National scandal article.

 Their post made me wonder what was my first reaction to the Worth scandal. It was:

Now this is just ridicolous. You can’t have a secret resignation – or a resignation for undisclosed reasons. The Government is bonkers if they think the reasons won’t come out, let alone that they do not have a duty to disclose them. And refusing to state the reasons will keep it as a story for days and weeks, instead of a three day wonder.

If you resign as a Minister, you need to say why you are resigning. Not the full details, but at least some reason.

So I was actually pretty harsh on the Government’s initial response.  I followed up saying:

The more I think about this, the more stupid it is not to state why he has resigned. As in majorly stupid. The public will wonder what the Government is hiding, the Opposition will assume the worst, the media will dig up dirt until they find the reason, and the Governments looks shifty. Before it is too late, the Government should arrange for either Key or Worth to explain why Worth resigned – the public have a right to know.

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Goff v Goff

March 24th, 2011 at 11:22 am by David Farrar

Sigh. Goff just digs deeper. Here is Phil Goff, Labour Party Leader (PGLPL) on NewstalkZB this morning:

SEAN PLUNKET: When Richard Worth was under investigation, you were constantly calling for the Prime Minister and other politicians to come clean and tell us what they knew and when they knew it.

 PHIL GOFF:  Let me remind you of this. That when a police… when a complaint was laid with the police against Richard Worth, I made no comment. No comment at all. And you go back and you check your records, and you’ll find out that that was true. I was asked for comment – this is when a woman I think in Bolton Street had made an allegation – I said, I don’t know. I’ve got no information, I won’t speculate. It’s up to the police, and I’m making the same comment now.

So PGLPL says he made no comment at all around Richard Worth. Luckily we can check this out.

Let’s see what Phil Goff, Leader of the Opposition (PGLOTO) said in 2009. First on Radio NZ on 3 June:

This was obviously much more than a personal matter, if it involved a, a complaint to the police, and a police investigation, I, I think, ah, Mr Key should have come clean first thing this morning, and ah, that’s what I told him on.

And om TVNZ on 4 June:

Well I, I think that when you’re talking about the resignation of a minister of the Crown, that’s a public position, therefore you’ve got to be open and transparent about it, the reasons, ah, the allegations, not the details, that’s the subject of a police ah, inquiry and, and no politician should interfere in a police inquiry, but he should’ve been upfront, I’ve received an allegation, it’s related to a police contay [sic] complaint, it is about sexual behaviour, until such time as that takes place ah, Dr Worth is henceforth suspended.

This is especially damning. He is explictly saying that one should have been upfront, announce there has been a police complaint about sexual behaviour and that the MP is suspended. It is a total contradiction of his stance today which was to say or do nothing and hope it doesn’t become public.

And also on RadioLive in 4 June:

I think in normal circumstances if an allegation is made regarding a police complaint, you would suspend the Minister, ah, pending the, ah, the police investigation on the basis that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but if a serious allegation is made, ah, then it’s appropriate for the Minister to step aside.

So does PGLPL agree with PGLOTO? If so, then can we only conclude that PGLPL thinks the allegation is not serious? Or does PGLPL says that only Ministers should step aside when a serious police compaint is made against them, but not senior frontbench opposition MPs?

If anyone can reconcile the stances and words of PGLPL and PGLOTO, please send your CV to jobs@labour.org.nz

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Armstrong on Goff

March 24th, 2011 at 8:03 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes in the NZ Herald:

The Labour Party will not be judged by what Darren Hughes has or has not done in his private life.

It will be judged according to how Phil Goff handles the crisis which has enveloped one of Labour’s bright young rising stars and consequently the party as well.

Goff’s management of the crisis has already begged a major question. Why did the Labour leader not immediately stand Hughes down from his roles as Labour’s chief whip and education spokesman two weeks ago when the MP told him he was the subject of a police investigation?

It is a surprise that Phil Goff, Labour Party Leader, did not take the advice of Phil Goff, Leader of the Opposition. Here’s a quote from PGLOTO in 2009:

Opposition leader Phil Goff said today Mr Key should have sacked Dr Worth last week.

“The matter could have been dealt with rather more promptly,” Mr Goff said.

So let us compare the cases of Dr Worth and Mr Hughes.

  1. Dr Worth’s leader is informed of a Police complaint. He briefly investigates, and then sacks Dr Worth. All of this occurs before the Police complaint is even made public. PGLOTO claims the matter should have been dealt with more promptly.
  2. Mr Hughes’ leader is informed of a Police complaint. PGLPL does nothing at all until the matter becomes public.

John Armstrong notes:

Had he gone on the front foot then – rather than being forced to fess up yesterday in the face of rapidly snowballing media inquiries – Goff would have got some plaudits for being upfront.

He would also have got marks for consistency. Back in 2009, Goff launched into John Key for not immediately stripping Richard Worth of his ministerial warrant after the Prime Minister had been apprised of allegations of a sexual nature made against the then National MP.

Goff now risks being marked down for double standards.

Rather large double standards.

Goff’s political management accordingly starts to look misguided at best and downright stupid at worst.

I’ll be generous and say they are thinking with their hearts, not their heads.

UPDATE: Phil Goff just interviewed by Sean Plunket on NewstalkZB. Goff said it is up to the Police to decide if Hughes’ behaviour was appropriate. Plunket pointed out that no their job is to decide if his behaviour was criminal. Goff does not seem to understand the difference.

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Worth complaint withdrawn

July 3rd, 2009 at 12:57 am by David Farrar

NZPA report:

The Korean businesswoman who laid a complaint against former MP and government minister Richard Worth has dropped the matter and the police have decided not to take a case against him, it was reported tonight.

As widely predicted. Richard and his family will be very relieved. Losing your job is nothing compared to the possiility of losing your liberty.

TV3 News reported tonight it had been informed by a source close to the Korean woman that she had dropped her complaint.

“She feels the political fallout around Richard Worth has been sufficient and going through the courts would have been an additional ordeal that would have gained little,” TV3 said.

It also reported police had told the woman there was not enough evidence to take a case against Dr Worth, and that was another reason why she was dropping her complaint.

The Police saying there is no evidence, is a good reason to drop the complaint.

TV3 reported the woman sent an email to Prime Minister John Key giving her account of what happened at the hotel.

“It talks about how they were drinking wine, she was tired and went to bed, and was woken by a naked Richard Worth,” TV3 said.

“It goes on to detail what happened after that.”

Not a good look, regardless of legality.

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Ralston on dirty tricks

June 14th, 2009 at 11:57 am by David Farrar

Bill Ralston writes:

He may have resigned but Richard Worth is not the only victim in this debacle. When you play in the muck you will get dirt on you. It’s a lesson Phil Goff forgot last week and it must take the gloss off the Mt Albert by-election result.

Goff made the mistake of personally championing Choudary’s allegations, and making it all about him.

It is obvious that Goff’s office first leaked the rumour to the Press Gallery that Labour had already warned Key of allegations of sexual harassment by Worth of another woman, who we now know is Neelam Choudary.

Leaving the Korean woman’s allegations to one side, it is also now apparent that the Choudary affair was largely a Labour set-up.

Personally I don’t think Goff was part of the set up. I think the most likely explanation is it was a group of Auckland activists. They took teh stuff to Goff and at first he did not think there was enough to attack Worth on – so instead he just sent it privately to Key. When Key’s COS came back and said he denies it but has been wanred, Goff was happy to leave it there as he probably himself doubted it all stacked up.

But then when Worth was dismissed as a Minister, Goff could not resist the chance to get it out there, so they leaked its existence. And at first it worked, until it became apparent how little proof there was, and that the picture drawn of the complainant was so misleading.  Goff should trusted his initial instincts to not go public with it.

Finally, however, thanks to the efforts of some bloggers and journalists in the gallery, more ugly facts emerged. Goff had sought to keep her name secret. For good reason. It soon became apparent Choudary was not just an ordinary low-level member of the Labour Party, she had tried to become a Labour MP last year.

By offering herself to the bear pit of Parliament she plainly demonstrated she was no shrinking violet incapable of fending off the blandishments of an aged Government minister.

Indeed. Tracy Watkins in the Dom Post sums it up best:

Meanwhile Mr Goff milked the woman’s status as an immigrant who was confused and distraught at Dr Worth’s intentions. When first asked by The Dominon Post if he knew the woman before she came to him, Mr Goff agreed he had, but only for a short time. By the next day, he had put it out there that she was a Labour Party member. When she was revealed this week as Auckland woman Neelam Choudary, it became clear she was no low-level member. She is prominent in Auckland Labour Party circles. The image of a frightened and traumatised woman doesn’t square with the recollections of reporters who came across her regularly on the campaign trail with Helen Clark.

Nor does it square with some of Mr Goff’s colleagues. The woman described as “strikingly beautiful” by Mr Goff is forthright and supremely confident, according to some. Her husband was convicted of an immigration scam.

It is interesting that Goff’s colleagues are quoted on this. Some of them are not too pleased I dare say on the handling of this.

Back to Ralston:

From the beginning, when she first received approaches from Worth, she had kept Goff in the loop. The Labour leader even endorsed the idea she should meet Worth.

We also found out that Choudary had been active on the ground in David Shearer’s by-election campaign in Mt Albert. Hence the inevitable conclusion Worth and the Government were clearly being set up by the Labour Party.

We’re still yet to hear why Choudary was seen having coffee with Worth a month after she alleges the texts and phone calls stopped.

I now find it impossible to give her and Goff’s allegations any credibility. She has insisted Key keep secret the content of the texts that Worth supposedly sent her, so she has made it impossible for the public to verify her claims. Certainly on the basis of the few innocuous texts released so far there is no evidence of any sexual propositions or harassment.

From what we’ve seen so far in the Choudary affair, Worth is guilty, at worst, of being a silly old fool.

No one has come out of this business with their reputation enhanced by what now must be seen as a Labour Party dirty trick.

Goff has ducked for cover, after a couple of weeks of drip-feeding juicy tidbits to the media and taking the moral high ground. That can only be seen as an admission he was wrong.

Yes when Goff won’t front up to media, you know things have gone wrong.

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Complainant #2

June 14th, 2009 at 11:39 am by David Farrar

Jonathan Marshall reports on Complainant #2:

The Korean businesswoman whose sexual allegation against disgraced ex-MP Richard Worth is being investigated by police was herself charged with a serious criminal offence, but was not convicted, and it is claimed she has a string of creditors chasing her for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The details are:

The woman has been in trouble with the law herself. In October 2005 she appeared in Waitakere District Court charged with assault with intent to injure, but the case did not go to trial because the alleged victim did not turn up for a depositions hearing.

Assault with intent to injure is getting up to the serious end. I wonder what the details were.

More recently the woman and her business partner have been pursued by several creditors to whom it is alleged they owe thousands of dollars. A company owned by the pair has been placed into liquidation owing $245,000, although the liquidator expected that amount to climb.

A private investigator, who asked not to be named, confirmed finding the woman had been “terribly difficult”.

The private investigation firm had wanted to serve court documents on the woman relating to mortgage non-payment to the Bank of New Zealand for four homes, each valued at around $600,000.

That is a lot of money – $2.4 million. Not sure any of this directly is relevant to the allegations against Richard Worth, but it does tend to impact on credibility.

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Fran calls for an inquiry

June 13th, 2009 at 2:18 pm by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan says the allegations that Richard Worth promised appointments for “favours” were so serious they should have gone to an inquiry.

Key should not be allowed to get away with ducking his own basic democratic responsibility to ensure a “favours for jobs” allegation that casts doubt on the integrity of his Government is tested.

Mrs Choudary could always file a complaint with the Police, as I suggested, as what she alleges is a crime under s107(1) if the Crimes Act

Corruption and bribery of Minister of the Crown

(1) Every Minister of the Crown or member of the Executive Council is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years who corruptly accepts or obtains, or agrees or offers to accept or attempts to obtain, any bribe for himself or any other person in respect of any act done or omitted, or to be done or omitted, by him in his capacity as a Minister or member of the Executive Council.

Maybe Phil can help her with the complaint.

No one emerges from this affair unscathed. In Goff’s case, his campaign looks decidedly shabby. First, another senior Labour Party official identified Choudary by leaking telling details about her. Then, secondly, right-wing bloggers chipped in with revelations about the immigration scams her husband, Kumar, orchestrated.

Toss in the additional factor that one of Kumar Choudary’s victims alleges he has since been offered a $15,000 hush payment by associates to shut up about the pair and this whole episode is starting to take on very serious connotations.

The reality is that Goff tabled no real evidence to support his allegation that Worth tried to entice the “strikingly beautiful” Choudary (Goff’s description, not Worth’s) with the offer of a job on the Lottery Grants Board. Even the allegedly saucy texts that have been published by the Labour leader give the appearance of little more than an obsession.

They are not sexually explicit. They do not corroborate the most serious allegation against Worth – that he was prepared to use political patronage for favours.

Fran also criticises Key:

After Key’s own ham-fisted announcement of Worth’s ministerial “resignation”, the MP was subjected to a ceaseless barrage of innuendo from both Goff and Key as they shamelessly plumbed Worth’s peccadilloes for their respective political advantage.

Both political leaders need to grow up. New Zealand is surely not Malaysia, where a political opponent (or even a former colleague) can be drummed out of Parliament or jailed without a fair go. Or is it?

List MPs can be – they basically serve at a party’s pleasure. Electorate MPs are very different.

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Richard Worth has resigned as an MP

June 12th, 2009 at 4:09 pm by David Farrar

Details to follow.

First reaction – Cam Calder effectively becomes a Member of Parliament tomorrow – as he would have if Melissa wins the by-election. So how is that for gettign there through the unlikely route?

Martin Kay at the Dom Post has the story.

This is a very good outcome for both Richard and National. Richard would have been miserable on the backbenches, and it allows National to avoid having to deal with the issue.

I have been e-mailed his statement:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Statement by Dr Richard Worth

“Since I resigned as a Cabinet Minister earlier this month, I have been considering my personal options, and also the welfare of the National Party – a party which I love and have served to the best of my ability for the past nine years.

“As a result, I have today also resigned as a list Member of Parliament with immediate effect.

“It would be easy for me to be bitter about the avalanche of rumour and innuendo that has led me into making this decision which I regard as being in the best interests of my party.

“I wish only to restate that I have not committed any crime, and I remain confident that when the true facts are established I will be cleared of any and all allegations of criminal conduct. I will steadfastly defend myself in respect of those allegations.

But it is impossible to defend oneself in the public and political arena against hearsay, character assassination and scuttlebutt.

“Like most of us, if we are honest, I may at times during my life have said and done things which, when analysed in the cold light of day, may seem to have been unwise. As I said last week, like any other citizen I am entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

“I could spend the future bemoaning the unfairness of a campaign which has Labour’s fingerprints all over it. But that is not my nature. The campaign has been run against me by people who are unable or unwilling to back their claims with credible evidence of criminal activity.

“I went into politics to make a contribution to New Zealand. I can see that it is no longer possible for me to do that through politics, so I am now choosing to follow another positive path.

“Helping New Zealand win international trade will be the focus of my future activities. I believe I may make a greater contribution through my business activities than by attempting to remain in politics in what would clearly be an untenable position, and hoping to be forgiven for things of which I am innocent.

“My conscience is clear. Those who have chosen to try to ruin my reputation should perhaps now examine theirs.

“My wife and family stand behind me in this decision, as they have stood by me, together with our friends, in the past difficult weeks. Their loyalty and love has been a timely reminder for me about what is truly important in life.

This whole episode has taken a toll on me personally, and this is why I have made myself unavailable to the media and will continue to do so. I would ask that media now respect my right to privacy and allow me to get on with my life.

“That is all I wish to say. I am moving forward on a new path”.

Richard will get a lot of kudos for his decision, which is well timed, and for his loyalty. Also his apparent lack of rancour.

Having known Richard for a decade, somewhat sad at his leaving in this fashion, but it was the right decision. Also my thoughts are with his family, for which this must have been very tough.

John Key has now commented:

Prime Minister John Key says Dr Richard Worth’s resignation from Caucus and Parliament is a sensible course of action in the circumstances.

“I was notified this afternoon of Dr Worth’s intention to resign from Parliament. I believe this to be a sensible course of action,” says Mr Key.

“The decision gives the country an opportunity to move forward and focus on the issues that matter. There are important challenges facing New Zealand, and they will continue to have the Government’s full attention.

“Auckland’s Cam Calder is next on the party list. We look forward to welcoming him as a new Member of Parliament for National.”

The next candidate on the list after Cam Calder is Conway Powell. I hope he won’t be called up for a while :-)

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iPredict on Richard Worth

June 11th, 2009 at 3:15 pm by David Farrar

iPredict has stock on whether Worth will leave Parliament in 2009 and the market thinks he will – at 78%.

I am not sure the odds are that high. With the earlier allegation somewhat unravelling (but not totally), it is hard to see what will trigger him being forced to quit. However he may decide to quit anyway rather than spend two years miserable as a backbencher. I’d personally not price the stock at over 60%.

There is also a stock on whether a second Minister will depart in 2009 and that is at 39%. Again I think that is too high and would put it at 25% at this stage.

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The story that Phil told

June 11th, 2009 at 2:03 pm by David Farrar

I,like many, fell for the story that Phil Goff told. I went on radio and said that Worth must go, on the basis of the earlier allegation on top of the later criminal complaint.

One interviewer asked me if I was saying that MPs can’t remain MPs or Ministers if they have an affair, and I was quick to say no that is not the case – a consensual affair is no disqualification for office. And neither is hitting on someone of the other sex (or same sex if that is your flavour). If that was the threshold then Parliament would be a far smaller place.

But the case that Phil Goff drew was of an unworldy timid woman who was so scared of Dr Worth that she did not know how to get him to stop, so finally in desperation went to Phil Goff, and Goff intervened to get him to stop. It was the harrassing predatory nature of the allegations that was damning. That does not excuse Dr Worth for any of his actions, but it does change very much the story that was being told.

The revelation that the woman was not just a party member or even a party activist, but tried to become a Labour MP in 2008 changes things dramatically. I know lots of parliamentary candidates for Labour and National. They are not unwordly shrinking violets who can’t handle themselves.

In fact the notion that an apsiring parliamentary candidate was so overwhelmed by the attention of an MP, she could not tell him to piss off, is ludicrous when you consider the role of an MP is to get up in Parliament and rip into the MPs and Ministers on the other side of the House.

This is not to say that Worth was not creepy towards her, and did not behave stupidly, inappropriately or even worse. He may well have – and is suffering the consequences.

But Phil Goff massively misrepresented the story in terms of how he portrayed this.

I am finding the story full of holes. She said she took the matter to Goff so the calls would stop, but it is now clear she went to Goff long before the calls became allegedly inappropriate.

She also said at another stage she went to Goff because Worth had offered her a job – but in today’s Herald we learn she contacted Goff before she had the coffee with Worth where he allegedly made the job offer.There are lots of things not adding up here.

I have had coffee with many Labour Party candidates. I trust they don’t all ring up Phil Goff for permission before they have a coffee with someone from another party.

I’m trying to put together a timeline of this whole thing, and will blog it when I have. The more you look the more you find things such as Barry Soper’s contention today that Phil Goff’s office were the ones who originally leaked the existence of the allegation to the media, so they would ask John Key if there had been any other complaints.

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Herald on Choudary

June 11th, 2009 at 9:27 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young and Patrick Gower write:

The husband of the woman who accused ousted minister Richard Worth of sending her sleazy text messages was convicted of an immigration scam. …

Has he been sentenced? It was originally scheduled for February.

Labour leader Phil Goff said last night he was concerned that the woman had been named and that her husband was being brought into the story.

The reason she has been identified is because Goff and Rudman could not keep their mouths shut. Goff’s description of her as “strikingly beautiful” was hugely important in people identifying her – along with Rudman’s revelation she was not just a member or activist but in fact had tried to become an MP.

His status had “nothing to do with the accuracy or the credibility or the veracity of what she has said was her experience with Richard Worth”, he said.

Well that depends on what her knowledge was of what her husband was doing. One may be aware but not be complicit.

One of the victims, Siddesh Sajjan, last night told the Herald he met Kumar and Neelam Choudary in 2002 and paid them $3500 for a job offer that turned out to be fake.

He said that although Neelam Choudary was not charged, “she is a troublemaker”.

This is first hand testimony that she was involved with making a job offer. Now as she was not charged, it is probable that she did not realise the job did not exist, but why get involved with making an offer if you don’t know that it is genuine.

A Labour supporter who lives in Mt Roskill and voted for Mr Goff, he said he had considered warning the party about her earlier when she became heavily involved with it, and regretted not doing so.

So the victim of the fraud is not a National Party member, activist or complainant.

Mr Goff said Mrs Choudary was now under enormous stress.

And who the fuck caused that? Who told the country she is strikingly beautiful allowing her to be recognised? Who has tried to keep the story on the front page for day after day by drip feeding e-mails and advising her not to hand the e-mails over to the PM’s Chief of Staff? Who tried to turn it into a political circus by insisting he attend any meeting with the PM as her “support person”?

Tracy Watkins and Clio Francis reports:

Labour leader Phil Goff yesterday accused National of outing the woman after Naleem Choudary was named on the Right-wing blog Whale Oil as the person claiming Dr Worth offered her plum government positions and subjected her to “vulgar and sexually explicit” phone calls.

The desperate idiot. Goff is the one who helped out her. His comments on her apperance combined with Rudman’s column allowed her to be identified.

The fact is that key people in National have known her identify for a week and they never ever leaked it – despite probably knowing about the fraud conviction. Could you have imagined Labour doing the same and not leaking her identity if she was a National candidate with a convicted fraudaster husband complaining about a Labour Minister? Shit no – her name would have been out within minutes.

I also know that TV3 made a decision to name the woman some hours before her name appeared on a blog. Why? Because Rudman and Goff had effectively identified her already.

Mr Goff refused to confirm the woman’s identity but said he was “really sorry” that a name was out there.

“What does this mean for any other person that wants to stand up and say, `here is a person in a position of power, they’re misusing their power’?”

It means never ever use Phil Goff again as your sexual harrassment advisor.

Mr Goff said he had never hidden the woman’s Labour Party affiliation, including from Mr Key.

“There’s no question at any point other than that she was a member of the Labour Party. I said that the very first time I spoke to John Key and the very first time I spoke to the media about it.”

There is a big big difference between being a member of a political party, and having sought a parliamentary nomination. It is a rare breed of person who wants to become an MP and is prepared to live such a public life by doing so. I will blog more on this later.

Mr Goff accused individuals “with close links to the National Party” of pressuring Ms Choudary to “shut up”, and said there was a deliberate attempt to undermine her.

Not sure who he is talking about, but I actually want her to supply all the text messages – in both directions – as Goff promised.

“Clearly, a political decision was made from the National Party that they would not respect her privacy and that they would attack her credibility.”

The desperate smear to cover up the fact he is more responsible than anyone except Brian Rudman for outing her.

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Neelam Choudary

June 10th, 2009 at 8:56 pm by David Farrar

Both TV stations have revealed (as did Whale Oil earlier in the day) that Neelam Choudary is Complainant A. She stood for Labour’s nomination for Botany in the 2008 election – so this was someone who wanted to be an MP – not a shy retiring unworldy type.

I will blog more on this tomorrow. But it is a matter of public record that Neelam’s husband has was convicted in December 2008:

Kumar Akkineni Choudary and Lourdu Joseph William Reddy, who both moved to New Zealand from India in the 1990s, tricked more than 20 Indian and Chinese immigrants, either already in the country or overseas, into paying thousands of dollars. …

An Indian national now living in the Auckland suburb of Avondale told the Herald he met Choudary and his wife Neelam in 2002 after hearing about the scheme from a friend back in India who read an advertisement in a newspaper.

The highly qualified 32-year-old was asked to pay $3500 in return for a job offer.

“They said that if you paid a bit of extra money, they could get the case sped up. They said that they had some contacts with the immigration office people.”

About five days after their fist meeting, the Choudarys sent the man a job offer working on computers for a company called Xzact.

The Herald article does not state that Neelam was charged with anything, but the wording refers to the Choudarys plural as making the job offers.

Choudary was found guilty on six fraud charges.

I repeat my earlier call that all the texts – in both directions – should be made available. Public damaging allegations have been made that could force an MP out of Parliament, and I think we need to see what the replies were to understand why the alleged harrassment went on for so long.

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Has Rudman outed Complainant A?

June 10th, 2009 at 11:45 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman wrote in the Herald:

One was a married woman who had stood unsuccessfully for selection as a candidate for Labour Party nomination in last year’s election

Now that narrows it down massively from activist to candidate nominee, and makes it pretty easy for someone to use Google to make an educated guess.

Note I will delete comments that mention the likely name – or any name.

Incidentally, this makes it even worse for Richard Worth – if he was hitting on not just a Labour Party activist, but an actual candidate – that is damn reckless.

UPDATE: It is actually the combination of Goff’s comments on her appearance, and Rudmans column that makes identifying her fairly simple. So Phil has helped out her!

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Herald on Worth

June 10th, 2009 at 10:53 am by David Farrar

I think the Herald editorial today nails it:

John Key is not the first Prime Minister to sack a Cabinet member for conduct unbecoming a minister. Helen Clark, until her third term, made quite an art of it. Mr Key could learn from her. The art lies in an economy of words. When the deed is done the Prime Minister should explain the dismissal in terms that do not invite a prolonged discussion.

We should not have had this daily game of political ping-pong between Mr Key and his opposite, Phil Goff, over who knew what and when, about complaints from women who say they received the unwanted attentions of former Internal Affairs Minister Richard Worth. There must be far more important matters on Mr Key’s plate, if not Mr Goff’s.

Agreed. Sometimes John’s propensity to be open and responsive can backfire on him. As the editorial says, an economy of words would be preferable to arguing over what time the phone call was – especially when you get it wrong.

It is a measure of Labour’s desperation for attention that its leader is making comment. Normally when something of this nature surfaces the rival party is content to keep out of it, calculating that it has nothing to gain and much to lose by taking cheap shots at a target that is fatally wounded.

In this case, Mr Goff sees an opportunity to besmirch Mr Key with the fact that the complaint on which the Prime Minister acted was not the first he had received. The first, from a woman in the Labour Party, had been relayed by Mr Goff a few weeks earlier. He says Mr Key did not bother to check it out.

Mr Goff said the woman had been offered public posts and there was email traffic to prove it. But when challenged to produce that evidence, Mr Goff had to admit he did not have it. Still, he thinks Mr Key should have asked for it.

Desperation for attention is the motive. And Goff has failed totally to front up with any evidence. The handful of texts in today’s Herald, are not grounds to sack an MP, especially as they are given without any context of all the texts both sent and received.

Then he tried to organise a meeting between the woman and Mr Key with himself present for her support. Mr Key agreed to it, though not with Mr Goff present, then decided the woman should talk to his chief of staff instead, and Mr Goff could be present. But Mr Goff advised the woman she should not accept anything less than a meeting with the Prime Minister.

And as I said yesterday, Goff’s career as a sexual harrassment counsellor is not going to be a long one.

Whether or not it comes to that, the political career of a once prominent Auckland lawyer, the long-time chairman of the firm Simpson Grierson, is plainly over. Mr Key says he will not have him back in his Cabinet regardless of the result of a police investigation of the complaint from a second woman. In that respect, he echoes the attitude of Helen Clark who held her ministers to higher standards of behaviour than those defined in criminal law.

Mind you, Helen did recycle those she sacked – even those who broke the law.

The Herald’s inquiries suggest the second complaint against Dr Worth are unlikely to result in charges. The complainant, a businesswoman in her 40s, is said to have accepted the minister’s hospitality in a Wellington hotel and had breakfast with him next morning.

If that is correct, that will be a huge relief to Dr Worth and his family. Losing your Ministerial job, or even your parliamentary job, is nothing compared to possibily losing your freedom.

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Young on Key/Goff

June 9th, 2009 at 3:08 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young blogs:

One politician was bound to be deeply embarrassed today, Phil Goff or John Key. One would be right and one would be wrong. And the answer is that John Key is wrong.

The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader have been publicly disputing what was said in their private conversation on May 6 about text and phone messages from Richard Worth to a Labour woman activist (that stopped on February 23).

Goff insisted his version was more accurate because immediately after the call he had written a file note from the scribbles he had taken during the conversation.

The file note was headed 9.45 – 9.55 pm. Key dismissed that at his post cabinet press conference yesterday saying “that can’t be right because I got off the plane at 10 pm.” Phil Goff has just retrieved his own phone records of the call made from his desk at Parliament to Key’s cellphone. The call started at 21.49 (11 minutes to 10 pm) and lasted 8 minutes and 30s. That means that Goff is substantially correct.

Yep. I assumed Key’s insistence was based on checking records. He shouldn’t shoot from the hip on details like this – especially considering it wasn’t a cruical detail, but it now becomes a credibility issue. Definitely an own goal.

Young however notes:

Key had the moral high ground on this issue last week. His willingness to meet the woman complainant only after she has show the texts and phone logs to his chief of staff is entirely reasonable.Labour’s stalling tactics have looked as though they know they don’t have a solid case but want to spin it out for as long as possible.

Absolutely. Labour are not interested in actually helping the complainant – just using her not for political point scoring.

That accords with his own file note which says the contact from Worth to the woman was “verging on sexual harassment.” And he acknowledged to me this morning that he has not even seen the woman’s responses at any time let alone asked to see them.

I would have thought one would have asked to see all text messages in and out.

But whatever holes there are in Goff’s case at present, Key has just given him a leg up to seize the moral high ground.

Yep. As I said – it was an own goal.

However let us not lose focus on the text messages. Richard Worth’s future may hang on them. It is time to stop messing about, and pass them onto the PM’s Chief of Staff. There is really no excuse for not doing so after all the complaining and publicity.

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Today’s Worthy News

June 9th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

First Audrey Young reveals that the deleted texts are being sought:

The Auckland Indian woman who has accused MP Richard Worth of sending vulgar messages to her is trying to retrieve some deleted messages from Vodafone. …

One of the deleted text messages is alleged to be advising the woman where to buy a particular see-through garment in Hyderabad in India, where she was visiting last December.

Mr Goff said last night the woman yesterday requested the texts from Vodafone and had been told that after three months, only the police could request them. Vodafone did not return calls to verify what a customer’s rights are.

This sounds like an admission that there is no evidence amongst the non deleted texts, and may explain why they are refusing to hand them over.

Mr Key disputed Mr Goff’s claim that in their May 6 conversation, that Mr Key had said he had heard rumours before about Dr Worth and that was why he had not been made Speaker.

Mr Goff’s file note of the conversation states: “Key indicated he had heard rumours before the election – reason why Worth had not been made Speaker. Had raised it directly with Worth who had denied it …”‘

The file note is headed 6 May 2009, 9.45 – 9.55pm. Mr Key said “That can’t be right because I got off the plane at 10pm.”

Goff has been shaky on many of the details – such as the e-mails that never were etc, and looks like he even has the time wrong.

And as to the probability that the PM would tell the Leader of the Opposition that he did not make someone Speaker because of rumours about women – well it isn’t high.

John Armstrong writes:

There, surely, could be a way found for Key to have a squiz at the texts without him or Goff imposing conditions the other will not accept.

Key has imposed no conditions except that they be shown to his COS first. Goff is advising the woman very badly by insisting that she not hand them over until the PM meets with both her and him. This is akin to a Police complainant going to a Police station, saying they have a complaint, but refusing to provide details until they meet with the Police Commissioner personally.

Labour has no reason to compromise. It suits Goff to drag things out. He will be delighted that questions on Worth’s past and future consumed most of the Prime Minster’s weekly press conference yesterday.

Why would Labour be in a hurry to hand over the text messages and phone logs allegedly showing Worth’s calls when they are of assistance only to Key?

Labour is playing a bigger game here – one that is really all about pulling a popular prime minister off his perch and making him look and behave like just another politician.

Armstrong has it right. This is now totally about politics – not about helping the woman complainant.

You have to say that as a sexual harrassment advocate or advisor, Goff is not going to be your first choice in future. Look at the record:

  1. You approach him days after the alleged harrasment starts. He doesn’t even advise you to keep the messages, or make notes at the time of the phone calls.
  2. He doesn’t give you any advice on how to get the harassment to stop, Amazingly he lets you endure 100 unwelcome phone calls and text messages over three months, without telling you how to get them to stop.
  3. He waits three months until after the last message to then raise the issue.
  4. In raising the issue, he doesn’t ask for copies of any of the messages, does nothing to compile a bullet proof case. He just makes a phone call.
  5. When the other party”s boss comes back in a week saying no action can be taken as it is denied, you accept this and do nothing.
  6. When it then goes public, he mixes up key details.
  7. He then labels the complainant as “strikingly attractive”
  8. He advises the complainant that she should bring him along as a support person to a meeting – so it is all about him, not her.
  9. He advises the complainant not to hand over the text messages, despite having complained previously they were not asked for

Whatever job Goff will be doing after politics, it won’t be as a sexual harrassment counsellor or advisor!

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All about Worth

June 8th, 2009 at 8:59 am by David Farrar

So many comments today. First Cactus Kate comments on Phil Goff’s description of Complainant A is “strikingly beautiful”:

Imagine a man from the centre-right of politics objectifying a woman as “strikingly beautiful”. The left would be outraged.

Is it appropriate for a Party leader to be commenting on the physical appearance of one of his members? A member you are meant to be protecting the identity of? At what point did Goff feel the need to comment at all on her appearance? What possible context would it have been necessary to utter this stupid answer?

Kate mischievously suggests the feminist wing will be so outraged it may be BBQ at Maryan’s place!

The Sunday News reports that Richard’s daughter is standing by him:

THE only child of under-fire former minister Richard Worth claims the businesswoman who filed a complaint with police against her dad “has problems and needs help”.

“He is the best man in the world and I love him so much,” Worth’s 28-year-old daughter Virginia told Sunday News. …

“I am standing by my dad and that is all there is to it,” said Virginia Worth, a Newmarket, Auckland, rental car company manager.

“I am 100 percent confident and sure that everything is going to work out perfectly. I’m very proud of my father and he has been the most amazing and devoted parent anyone could wish for.”

There is enormous sympathy for Lynne and Virgina Worth, having to deal with all this.

John Tamihere writes:

The real target is not Dr Richard Worth or the complainant.

They are but a means to an end in the final game. In fact, they are merely unsuspecting pawns.

The head Labour wants is that of prime minister John Key.

He is new to the rough and tumble of bloodthirsty politics, of being in the gutter and having to slug it out.

While he is undoubtedly an outstanding corporate leader, and as such has had to deal with significant issues in regard to huge volumes of money and large numbers of staff and clients, the real dirty side of politics is now in play.

The question is, can he handle the constant and continual harassment and pressure the opposition will bring to bear? …

We see this by Goff insisting that the Prime Minister of New Zealand has to meet this “strikingly attractive” complainant despite the refusal to supply the text messages in advance.

Kerre Woodham writes:

What on earth would possess a man to think he could engage in this sort of behaviour and get away with it? Especially when one of the women was a Labour Party member.

He should be dismissed for that sort of poor judgment alone. There may well be no law against being a randy old goat but some of the allegations make for very uncomfortable reading.

Bill Ralston pronounces on the handling:

At 9.21 am on June 3, like the rest of the media, I received a short email statement from Richard Worth stating he was resigning his ministerial portfolio and would be making no further comment. Seven minutes later another arrived from Prime Minister John Key’s office saying he had accepted the resignation and would be making no further comment.

Hello? What were they thinking? A minister of the Crown resigns and the Government has nothing to say? Did anyone in the Administration seriously think journalists in newsrooms across the country would simply say, “Hey Richard Worth’s resigned but no one’s talking. Pity, well, where shall we go for lunch today?”

I think most people accept now the original press release was inadequate.

The problem with the Goff allegations is that he told Key only some considerable time, perhaps months, after first receiving the information that an Indian woman alleged Worth repeatedly made sexually inappropriate texts and phone calls to her.

He produced no affidavit from her and no texts were given to support the claim. Key instructed one of his senior staffers to investigate. Worth reportedly denied all, and threatened libel action against the woman. In a case where it was Worth’s word against an anonymous woman, Key was forced to accept his minister’s assurance.

And they still are refusing to provide the texts!

And finally the HoS editorial has some advice:

It is probably telling that, when asked on radio what he would do if criminal charges were laid, Key said that he could not sack Worth twice. It plainly implied that he did sack the minister and allowed the public announcement of a resignation as a face-saving gesture. If so, it is plainly the only slack the PM is cutting him. Helen Clark left a back door ajar or or at least unlocked for errant ministers to return; Key makes it plain that it will be a very cold day in hell before Richard Worth holds a ministerial warrant in one of his Cabinets. …

As to Worth himself, it may be beyond his capability to feel any shame. A man who exudes a sense of entitlement disproportionate to his status, he seems incapable of showing remorse about actions that plainly warrant remorse. After a private trip to India in which he spoke in his capacity as a minister while promoting an aviation company in which he had an interest, he was carpeted by his boss but would only allow, with a pained smile, that there had been a “perception” of a conflict of interest.

Well, the crystal-clear perception in that case was everybody’s but his – and this case is beginning to look remarkably similar. Rather than hide behind the niceties of legal procedure, Worth might like to act like a man: tell the public what he said and wrote, and when and to whom. And then he could explain why he considers it acceptable behaviour for an MP, never mind a minister.

This is Richard’s problem. He has the legal issue and the political issue. The best response to the legal issue is to say nothing, but that is the worst response to the political issue.

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Armstrong on Worth

June 6th, 2009 at 10:37 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Where to now for Richard Worth? The MP may yet face criminal charges in a court of law. He will as likely not.

There may be more information to come out, but I tend to agree with John that what is known at this stage does not indicate a criminal offence.

Regardless, there can now be little question about the verdict of the court of public opinion. And that verdict is driving the politics towards one inevitable conclusion – that Worth at least be suspended, if not expelled from the National caucus in reasonably short order.

The publicising of separate and detailed accounts from two women of alleged sexual misconduct on his part have tipped the political scales to the point where National MPs have little option but to eject him.

If he does not resign, it seems inevitable – unless Worth can make a case that he has behaved appropriately.

Putting as much distance between National and Worth is now the Beehive’s priority. However, the two weeks’ grace offered to Worth also gives Key some breathing space – as does the fact that Parliament is not sitting next week. That means no question time for Labour to try and score points over Key’s handling of the whole sorry episode.

It needs to be resolved by Caucus next Tuesday.

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A previous accusation by Worth accuser

June 6th, 2009 at 5:38 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A prominent member of the Korean community says he was once wrongly accused of inappropriate behaviour by the Korean complainant in the Richard Worth police investigation.

The man told the Weekend Herald the woman’s accusations, made in a Korean newspaper several years ago, were unfounded.

The man, who cannot be named because it would identify the complainant, said he was accused of having an inappropriate or dishonest relationship with the woman.

He said the article distressed his wife and children and he considered legal action but it was too expensive. “If it [the accusation] was true, why did she not go to police and court – why a newspaper?”

I’m not sure this affects the political problems for Worth, but it may well be a factor in whether the Police believe there was criminal offending.

Fran O’Sullivan makes this point:

But even if the police do not lay criminal charges – an outcome Key was hinting at – the allegations that Worth has been leveraging his official position to extract favours cannot simply be swept under the carpet.

This is not a matter of morality. Many marriages break up in Parliament and MPs stray from their partners and find new spouses.

But what doesn’t go with the territory are the allegations – made under Parliamentary privilege – that Worth also tried to extract sexual favours from an Indian woman for government-appointed positions.

The similiarity in both cases is that the role as an MP and Minister has been used to gain a conquest. Now again these are just allegations – and we are yet to hear from Dr Worth.

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Trotter on Worth

June 5th, 2009 at 7:32 pm by David Farrar

Chris Trotter pulls no punches, but people may be surprised at his targets:

WHAT IS IT with left-wing women? Why does it take a Cactus Kate to spell out the bleeding-bloody-obvious about Phil Goff’s damsel-in-distress? And, where’s the advantage, when it comes to living a fulfilling, exciting and, yes, occasionally risky life, of behaving like a permanently helpless victim?

So Dr Richard Worth hits on women. So what? It’s a thing men do. Some with genuine style and
panache, others with all the finesse of a slobbering dog. Women worthy of the name take the stylish ones to bed, and tell the slobberers to take themselves somewhere else.

And, if the silly sods refuse to take the hint? Well, that’s what, workmates/bosses/girlfriends/boyfriends/husbands and, if worse comes to worst, police officers are for.

By the sounds of things, Dr Worth is a slobberer. A slobberer, moreover, who seems to have real difficulties taking the hint. Presumably, that’s why he’s become the subject of a serious allegation of wrong-doing, and why his political career lies in ruins.

If you behave like a slobbering prat, entirely unmindful of your responsibilities as a husband, a father, a minister of the Crown, a member of Parliament, a member of the National Party caucus (not to mention a member of the human race) then you deserve nothing better. …

Sex is a thing that grown-ups do. Learning to negotiate one’s way through the reefs of lust and longing is, therefore, an important and inescapable part of becoming a mature human-being. In an culture (one of the very few cultures, in fact) which proclaims and enforces the principle of sexual equality, it looks really bad when left-wing “feminists” start behaving like a bunch of Victorian maidens confronted with a naked table-leg.

If “girls can do anything”, then surely they can tell some randy old bugger to fuck-off and leave them alone?

And now the complainant is refusing to provide the text messages in advance of a meeting. This doesn’t seem a reasonable request to deny.

In fact considering the allegations have been promoted and publicised, it would be very useful for the public to be able to read both the texts received and sent to be able to form an opinion.

I’m no defender of Richard Worth. In fact my language about him has been very harsh. But having the full text conversations released does not seem inapproprate – especially as the identity of the complainant remains private.

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Goff knew back in November 2008

June 5th, 2009 at 1:40 pm by David Farrar

I speculated this morning that Goff may have known about the earlier complaint for as long as 75 days. I was wrong. It seems he said on Morning Report that he was alerted way back in November 2008 – within days of the alleged harrassment beginning.

So in fact Goff knew about this for six months – including most of the period where the alleged 100 phone calls and texts occured. And then three months after they stopped, then raised it with the PM.

Cactus Kate also raises issues around why was Worth not told to stop early on.

I don’t think any of this excuses the alleged behaviour though.

The hypocrisy from Labour on this issue is quite stark. They are saying Key should not have taken Worth’s word for it, and investigated further.

Now Worth not only denied the allegation, he wrote that he was prepared to sign a statutory declaration that they are false. This is a sworn oath on penalty of perjury – Jeffery Archer got a long jail sentence for making such a false oath. So you had a barriaster and solicitor of the High Court, an MP, and the Associate Minister of Justice saying he will sign a sworn statutory declaration, against a second hand complaint with no supporting documentation.

Sure with benefit of hindsight you can argue one should have asked for the text messages – but the complainant herself has said the text messages by themselves prove nothing without the phone calls.

Now for the hypocrisy compare Labour’s position on Owen Glenn’s donation to Winston Peters legal fees.

Helen Clark admitted that she had known for over six months that Glenn said he donated to Peters. She phoned Peters who denied it, and she left it there – saying it was not up to her to investigate – depute this being a breach of the Cabinet Manual.

Now Peters did not, as Worth did, offer to sign a statutory declaration. He did not state in writing they were false. He did not say he was so convinced they were false he would sue anyone repeating them.

So the double standard from Labour is immense. In Helen’s case she had direct first hand testimony from Owen Glenn, on a mater of absolute fact (did he donate to Winston’s legal fees or not – can be proven within minutes), and a mere verbal denial from Winston. And Labour says Helen was right to take Winston at his word, even though this was a simple factual matter that could have been proven by a request to Glenn for a copy of the bank transfer.

And here we have a PM who has an anonymous allegation from a Labour Party activist, who will not be named, who has not supplied any documentary evidence – against a Minister who denies it in writing, and says he will sign a statutory declaration at risk of perjury if false.

Now sure a reasonable person can say both Clark and Key should have inquired further. And a reasonable person could say neither Clark nor Key should have inquired further – you trust a Minister unless there is direct written proof. Also one can very reasonably say Key pushed as far as he could (given the offer of a statutory declaration) but Clark did not (as it was a simple factual matter which could have been proven in minutes)

But how can anyone reasonably claim Clark was right not to inquire further, while Key was wrong not to do so?

I’m sure some of the commenters will give it a good go though.

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The Press on Worth

June 5th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

During his six months in the job he had distinguished himself by quickly becoming the weakest link in the administration of Prime Minister John Key. The final straw was the police investigation into serious sexual accusations against Worth which made it untenable for him to continue to hold a ministerial warrant. Key, quite correctly, demanded his resignation and has made it clear that if this had not been given he would have sacked Worth.

Labour leader Phil Goff now has the gall to claim that Key has displayed a lack of leadership, as the Prime Minister had known of the issue for a week before acting. Yet Key actually showed a sense of natural justice in making his own inquiries into the accusations before casting Worth adrift.

And never mind Goff sitting on another allegation for up to 75 days before acting.

Effectively sacking Worth was also a stark contrast to Labour’s refusal to sack New Zealand First leader Winston Peters before the last election when accusations of funding irregularities were swirling around him. Admittedly it is easier for a prime minister to punish a member of his own party, but Labour’s refusal to act decisively over Peters for political reasons was a real failure of leadership.

And Goff voted against the Privileges Committee report. He voted to say that Winston did nothing wrong.

Where Key may be faulted is in his initial statement about Worth on Wednesday morning. In it, Key repeated Worth’s own line about “private” matters prompting the resignation.

Although Key would not have wanted to prejudice the police investigation, he still should have indicated that the reason for the resignation was the inquiry into Worth’s conduct and not ill health or a family bereavement.

Which is the point I originally made.

Even if the police inquiry clears Worth, he will clearly not regain a Beehive post, as several of the former government’s suspended ministers did, which reflects a tough streak in Key.

Unlike the previous Government that put fallen Ministers back into the Ministry on numerous occasions.

Key cannot sack Worth from Parliament, although the MP could be expelled from the National caucus. But even if Worth stays on as a lonely National backbencher, his chances of receiving a safe list position for the next election are nil.

Less than nil.

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Herald has details of complaint

June 5th, 2009 at 7:16 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald has talked to the complainant.

With a police investigation underway, I’m not going to speculate too much on what happened. However what I will say is that it is clear that it was appropriate for Worth to be sacked as a Minister, regardless of whether there is a criminal element.

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How long did Goff sit on complaint?

June 5th, 2009 at 7:02 am by David Farrar

Phil Goff has been complaining about how long it took for John Key to investigate Richard Worth over the complaint that led to his suspension – he said a week was too long.

But it appears that he spent months sitting on an earlier complaint, before talking to the PM about it.

The Dom Post has a pdf of the statement from the married Labour Party activist. I should make clear that there is no criticism of her. In fact I think it is regrettable that she has been forced into making the statement. But the statement raises some questions of timing. It says there were 40 texts and 60 phone calls from 26 November 2008 to 23 February 2009.

These dates are very specific, and it is not clear if the communications stopped on 23 February 2009. If they did stop, then why was the matter referred to Phil Goff in May?

But you keep reading the statement, and it mentions going to Phil Goff earlier in the year. Now Goff did not approach John Key until 9 May 2009, yet he may have had the complaint as far back as 23 February – 75 days before the 9th of May.

The Herald has also worked out there was a delay:

But Mr Goff was questioned yesterday about his handling of the matter. He did not approach Mr Key until early May, some time after he had found out about the matter.

Asked why he waited so long to raise it, Mr Goff said he had several conversations with the woman and her husband and the matter had been embarrassing for them.

“It took the woman and her family some time to determine how best to deal with the matter that was obviously troubling to them.”

His main concern had been to protect the privacy of the woman and that was why he took the matter to Mr Key privately.

It took 75 days?

Also Goff got details wrong:

Mr Goff had said there was email evidence of Dr Worth’s communications, but yesterday said he was wrong and there were only texts.

As I have said previously, I thought Goff acted appropriately in raising the matter privately. And he kept the matter private when he got a response. Presumably the texts/calls had stopped – and that was the desired outcome.

But since then he has tried to be holier than thou, and if you try to do that, then his own actions come under scrutiny. People ask how long did he sit on the complaint for? Why did he not gather up evidence and pass it onto the PM’s Office. Why did he not respond with said evidence when Key came back to him?

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