'Total disbelief': Labour Party volunteer alleges sexual assault

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
Politics,
Publish Date
Monday, 9 September 2019, 2:04PM
Labour Party president Nigel Haworth has declined to comment on the investigation while it's under appeal. (Photo / Greg Bowker)
Labour Party president Nigel Haworth has declined to comment on the investigation while it's under appeal. (Photo / Greg Bowker)

Warning: This article contains graphic information.

The Opposition is calling for the Labour Party to stand down a staffer over reports of a serious sexual assault against a 19-year-old volunteer.

The Herald, meanwhile, understands the man accused of the attack is now working away from Parliament.

Seven formal complaints were laid with the party about a male staffer who had worked in the parliamentary precinct, but in July Labour decided to take no disciplinary action after an investigation.

Following reports members of the party had resigned over the investigation and contact with media, Labour last month said it would allow the complainants to appeal.

The Spinoff website today published a detailed account of an alleged sexual by the staffer against one of the complainants – a Labour party volunteer - saying he had pinned her to the ground and attacked her at his home in February 2018.

National Party deputy leader Paula Bennett has now called for Labour to stand the staffer down while the review is conducted.

"The staff member accused of these violent acts needs to be stood down and removed from Parliament immediately until an earlier investigation into his conduct is completed," she said.

"Any other workplace would take this sensible step to ensure the safety of its entire staff."

The Herald has been told the staffer subject to the complaints has voluntarily moved to work off-site, and had been there for some time.

Bennett said five complainants had come to her with concerns.

The lawyer for the staffer has declined to reply to a request to comment today, as has Labour Party president Nigel Haworth.

In a statement to the Spinoff, Haworth said none of the allegations looked into during that review related to sexual assault.

"The person leading the original review made it clear to the complainants that the party would never be the appropriate body to handle allegations of that nature and that they would need to be investigated by the police," he said.

The complainant told The Spinoff she had raised the sexual assault with the panel hearing the allegations in March.

In a statement, Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard said no complaint had been made to Parliamentary Service - the man's employer - by anyone involved in the case.

"I repeat my request for any individual who feels unsafe at work or when visiting to contact me or the general manager. Any further action requires a complaint," he said.

Asked if the man still worked in the precinct, Mallard said: "I'm not prepared to comment on individual cases but take my responsibility to ensure the buildings are safe very seriously and am satisfied that that is occurring."

 

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