Labour Party in crisis after details released on alleged sexual assault

By Jessica Tyson

The Labour Party and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have been under fire in parliament today, with questions about an alleged sexual assault by a Labour staffer.

The Spinoff yesterday released an article, describing the harrowing events experienced by a 19-year-old Labour volunteer, when she was allegedly subjected to a sexual attack by a male Labour staffer in February 2018.

In the article, the woman describes the complaints process, undertaken by people within the Labour Party, as leaving her feeling “angry, quite fearful and desperate”.

The woman also says the Labour Party president Nigel Haworth inaccurately recorded her testimony.

When questioned about whether or not he lied to the Prime Minister about how he conducted the recording he said, “I am making no comment on the process. I'm bound by confidentiality and will make no comment.”

In a media stand up today, Ardern says she was “frustrated” about how the process was undertaken.

“I need definitive and clear advice on what has happened here. Clearly what has been reported is extraordinarily distressing. I found it distressing,” says Ardern.

She says different accounts of the complaints, regarding the nature of the allegations, had been relayed to her, but she was initially advised that there were no complaints of a sexual nature.

But National Party Leader Simon Bridges thinks the Prime Minister was informed about the sexual assault complaints.

“If you stand back and look at what's happened here, you’ve got up to 12 complainants, some of those sexual," he says.

“We also know that there’s email correspondence here that tells a story. Indeed that I think the Prime Minister, and certainly senior staff of hers, were copied in on. So I come back to it. I don’t believe it.”

A Queen's Counsel will be conducted to investigate the process which could decide whether or not Haworth keeps his job.

Ardern says, “The QC will enable me to make those decisions with some clear advice around them and the president accepts I will act on those.”

According to Ardern, the alleged perpetrator has had his swipe access into parliament checked and hasn’t been on the premises for the last five weeks.