Labour sexual assault victim speaks up

The Spinoff reports:

party staffer is alleged to have committed a serious and sustained sexual assault on a 19-year-old volunteer early in 2018. The volunteer told the Spinoff the assault was compounded by the resulting inquiry, during which the alleged perpetrator was not stood down from any duties, which included the supervision of Young Labour volunteers. The complaint process, undertaken entirely by people within the Labour Party, has left her feeling “angry, quite fearful and desperate”. 
The alleged perpetrator has ties throughout the party hierarchy. The woman, who remains a member of the Labour Party, said the man’s level of influence left her constantly frightened of the impact of speaking out.
Over the course of numerous in-depth interviews with The Spinoff, Sarah – whose name has been changed to protect her identity – detailed how she was pinned down and sexually assaulted at the man’s home during a private meeting to discuss party business in early 2018. The process that followed, beginning in April 2018 during the post-Labour Camp review undertaken by Maria Berryman, has completely eroded her faith in the party.
Sarah is one of at least seven people who made formal complaints in relation to the individual, ranging from bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment through to sexual assault. She described him as having a “pretty senior and active” role in the party, and being well-connected with several high profile Labour MPs. The Spinoff understands that he remains working in parliament.

Not just in Parliament, but in Jacinda Ardern’s leader’s office.

The Labour’s leader office has taken no action to make parliamentary staff feel safe. They have falsely claimed it is an issue for the Labour Party, but it is not.

Sarah said she raised the allegations during an internal inquiry, with the investigating panel comprising three members of the New Zealand Council, the Labour Party’s governing body. Sarah and the other complainants were invited to appear before the panel at a meeting held at the Labour Party’s offices in Wellington. At the conclusion of the inquiry, after months with scant communication, the seven complainants all received an email from party president Nigel Haworth detailing the outcome of the internal investigation. “The recommendation was that no disciplinary action be taken in this case,” he wrote. “The New Zealand Council has accepted this recommendation.”

These complaints include sexual assault and Labour’s response is to “take no action”.

Told that the party denied hearing a complaint during its investigation, Sarah was adamant that both in documents supplied and her testimony that they were. What follows is a full description of her experience.

So Labour are now effectively saying the complainant is lying.

The story is tough to read (and immeasurably tougher to go through).

“I was scared,” she wrote. “I still am scared. This man holds a large amount of influence within the party.” He would boast, she added, about “his close relationship” with a Cabinet minister. 

I’ve heard that his role makes him invaluable to Labour’s election campaign. Labour have decided he must be protected.

The man complained about is employed by Jacinda Ardern through Parliamentary Service. She could sack him, or suspend him, if she wished to. The wishes of the leader are paramount when it comes to the leader’s office. You don’t even need an inquiry. All leader’s office staff are on contracts where they agree their employment can be terminated with three’s months salary if the leader no longer wishes them to remain.

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