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Golriz Shoplifting Allegations: Greens confirm MP identified in alleged second shoplifting incident

Philip Crump,
Publish Date
Fri, 12 Jan 2024, 11:15am

Golriz Shoplifting Allegations: Greens confirm MP identified in alleged second shoplifting incident

Philip Crump,
Publish Date
Fri, 12 Jan 2024, 11:15am

A second allegation of shoplifting has emerged involving embattled Green Party list MP, Golriz Ghahraman at the same exclusive Ponsonby boutique weeks before the incident which is alleged to have occurred on 23 December and is now the centre of a police investigation, ZB Plus can reveal.

The Green Party has since confirmed in a joint statement from the co-leaders, James Shaw and Marama Davidson on Friday the party has been made aware of both allegations and will be talking with the MP when she returns from an overseas trip planned months before the alleged incidents.

Ghahraman, who is the Green Party's seventh-highest ranked list MP and holds the party's justice portfolio, was revealed by ZB Plus on Wednesday to be facing an allegation of shoplifting thousands of dollars of high-end designer items from a boutique Auckland clothing store in Ponsonby.

A Green Party spokesperson told ZB Plus on Wednesday that the party was aware of the allegations relating to the incident on 23 December and as a result, Ghahraman would be standing aside from all portfolio responsibilities "until the matter is resolved".

"Green MPs are expected to maintain high standards of public behaviour," the spokesperson said.

ZB Plus then learned of a second instance of Ghahraman allegedly shoplifting from the boutique which been identified in the weeks prior to the original incident. ZB Plus contacted the Green Party and Ghahraman yesterday with details of the second incident but neither responded.

In addition, further details have come to light about the incident on 23 December which involved Ghahraman.

Sources have told ZB Plus that they believe the value of the unpaid items that Ghahraman removed from the boutique on 23 December was in the region of $15,000.

It is understood that Ghahraman was stopped by staff at Scotties when she attempted to leave the store without paying on 23 December. ZB Plus understands that Ghahraman refused to open her bag when requested by shop assistants and then is alleged to have left the store with her bag containing the unpaid items.

Some hours later, the clothing was understood to have been anonymously returned to the store.

ZB Plus contacted the Green Party on Thursday with a list of questions including asking when party leadership first became aware of the incident, but the party declined to comment beyond its initial statement.

However, a joint statement from the two party leaders later today confirmed they had been made aware of the two separate incidents. 

According to the statement, the Greens leadership was alerted to the December 23 incident four days later, then on January 5 it was made aware of allegations relating to a second incident at Scotties. 

"To help us understand the details of what may have happened, a representative of the Green Party sought clarification from the store, as well as from Ghahraman," the leaders said. 

"However, with Ghahraman on a long-planned personal trip overseas, Scotties confirmed that they were comfortable waiting for her to return to New Zealand to resolve the issue. We also agreed as co-leaders to address the matter with Ghahraman as soon as she returned to New Zealand."

According to Shaw and Davidson, Scotties had told them they did not want the allegations to become public so the party chose not to make a statement at the time. However, Ghahraman "did agree to stand down from her portfolios until the matter was resolved".

"The Green Party has a long-standing commitment to looking into matters such as these in a way that is fair to everyone involved," the leaders said. 

"We will not be commenting further until we have gathered all the facts and spoken with Ghahraman after she returns to New Zealand."

Shaw and Davidson also addressed others who "may be working to exploit this situation for their own political gain". 

"To that effect, let us be clear that no other Green Party MPs were involved in the alleged incident, we have had no contact with the Police, and it would not be appropriate for us to comment on their investigation in any way."

Talking to Summer Breakfast yesterday about the Christmas incident, political commentator Brigitte Morton believed it would be hard for the Green Party's PR team to spin the story into anything good, if the allegations proved to be true.

"Everyone's gone a bit quiet, which probably indicates that they're presumably trying to work out what's happened and what the next steps are."

Morton said the Green Party, in the absence of any statement or comment from Ghahraman, will be working hard to get to the bottom of the allegations and determine what could be believed or not.

She said there would be an expectation the party would be working with police and Scotties Boutique staff to gain an understanding that will help inform their decisions. Regardless of any conclusions, however, Morton believes Ghahraman's reputation will be tarnished.

"I think it's going to be difficult if they come out and say it was a misunderstanding or incorrectly accused, etcetera.”

"She's a senior experienced member of the Greens so she'll need to rebuild that credibility gap."

Ghahraman made New Zealand history as the first refugee to be sworn in as an MP, having arrived in Aotearoa as a child asylum seeker with her family from Iran. She was selected as a Green party list candidate in January 2017.

Recently, she has been outspoken on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza, considering it “ethnic cleansing” and called on world leaders to stand against Israel’s military actions she has described as “crimes against humanity”.

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