The Darren Hughes investigation

Bevan Hurley in the Herald on Sunday reports:

Friends and former colleagues of have put pressure on to decide whether to charge him over sex allegations.

Labour Party figures risked accusations of political interference by calling on police to “give the guy a break”.

And close friend Paul Henry said it was “extraordinary” the case was dragging on, more than three months after an 18-year-old student alleged Hughes sexually assaulted him.

Wellington police defended the length of the investigation, saying it had to be “thorough”.

Labour figures expressed support for Hughes as pictures emerged of the 33-year-old former Otaki representative on a Hawke’s Bay beach at Easter. He was pictured with Henry, his girlfriend Linzi Dryburgh and Auckland list MP Jacinda Ardern.

In his new memoir, Henry described Hughes as his second closest friend.

 I think it is a good thing that Darren’s friends are sticking hy him, and supporting him. That is what friends should do.

Labour list MP Stuart Nash said the lengthy investigation was unfair on Hughes and the 18-year-old complainant. He called on police to “give the guy a break”.

“If there is something there then charge him, but if there’s not then let him get on with his life. You can’t leave him hanging.” …

Former Labour Party president Andrew Little joined calls for a swift resolution.

“It wasn’t as if there were people to hunt down, anyone who had anything to say about it would have been interviewed.”

Having MPs and senior political figures call on the Police to do something, however well intentioned, is a bad judgement call.

It goes without saying that it would be better for both the complainant and Darren for a decision to be made earlier, rather than later. The Police will know this. They will not be delaying a decision just because they can. They will be working with Crown Law to make sure that their decision will hold up to scrutiny – no matter what it is.

Having MPs call for the Police to take a particular action, because it involves one of their friends, is not a good look. But worse, it makes the job of the Police even harder. If the Police decide not to charge, then some people may feel it was because of the pressure put on them.

Let me hasten to say I do not think the Police will be influenced in their decision, by the comments by Nash and Little. But it would have been better if they had not spoken publicly at all.

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