- Date published:
8:55 am, September 17th, 2019 - 124 comments
Categories: jacinda ardern, labour, national, paula bennett, same old national, uncategorized - Tags: andrea vance
It feels like Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Party have been hung drawn and quartered when it comes time to discussing the sexual assault allegations. But was there a rush to judgment?
I mean I can understand the relative motivations. From the left is the realisation that we have significant problems with sexual violence and we need to do better. And from the right there has been this salivating realisation that they could really hurt us. Just see the regular outpourings by Paula Bennett or the hysterical mutterings of Matthew Hooton if you need evidence.
Labour’s Council member Simon Mitchell, who is a very experienced and adept lawyer, has made a public statement which directly contradicts the essence of some of the allegations that have been made.
From Andrea Vance at Stuff:
The lawyer that led Labour’s investigation into the conduct of a parliamentary staffer says he wasn’t told of sexual assault claims.
Simon Mitchell, an Auckland employment and family law specialist, issued a statement through his own lawyers on Monday.
Mitchell says that “at no point” did a young volunteer tell him, or the panel, that she was sexually assaulted.
And he says he had his computer “forensically analysed” to prove it.
The allegation is that the committee of which he was a member has ignored the sexual attack complaint even though he and they were told about it.
A letter from Mitchell’s lawyer Penny Swarbrick to Stuff says: “Mr Mitchell is gravely concerned at allegations that he was the recipient of verbal and written disclosures of a sexual assault by the subject of the investigation … regrettably the statements by the complainant that Mr Mitchell received such information are untrue.”
The letter also says that claims the woman provided documentation in emails to the panel are “not credible”.
Mitchell says the woman emailed on [March 9,2019, the day of the first interview] to say she planned to read from a document and asked for it to be printed off. The email had no attachment, Mitchell says.
Mitchell asked her to contact assistant general secretary Dianna Lacy “who I am told printed a copy and gave it to the complainant”. He says he was never given a copy.
“I have subsequently (last week) been given a copy … and it does not contain any details of the sexual assault against her,” he said.
He goes on to say that she never raised the sexual assault allegations at the interview.
The article then says this:
Mitchell met again with the woman on May 29 “to clarify the allegations and the matters that we were investigating,” his statement says.
“At no time during that meeting did she say that she had been sexually assaulted by the subject of the complaint… at the conclusion of the meeting she said that she would provide me with more detailed information in the next few days.”
In June, she sent an email with three attachments, but none refer to sexual assault, he says.
So to recap:
I know Simon quite well. He is very experienced and sharp.
I am expressing no opinion about the veracity of the claim itself. I am aware that these situations are very complex and non disclosure is the norm. And human beings will not necessarily get things right when they are trying to retrieve the details of conversations that happened six months earlier.
There will be a formal inquiry by Maria Dew QC. There will be secrecy as to the terms of reference at the requests of the complainants and the details of the result will not necessarily be disclosed. This has not stopped the usual suspects from going into conspiracy mode.
I suspect this story has some way to go still. Particularly given Paula Bennett’s approach to the issue. Call me old fashioned but using Parliamentary Privilege to smear senior staffers and make allegations they are not able to reply to is not what I would call a victim focussed approach.
Mickey stop engaging with the beltway crap, and go out knock on some doors and get some votes.
Maybe it's easier to focus when you've washed the showers of shit from the likes of Matthew Hooton and Paula Bennett off yourself.
‘This was bound to happen’ since the National can only retake the power using dirty politics again.
We hope that the electorate remember all the lies and corruption we witnessed with the 9 yrs of the John Key Government.
If labour want to recapture their dignity here they need to finally start their own media platform of the promised ‘free to air (no advertising) public current affairs channel’ to get their policies ‘inbreed’ into the NZ voters minds before the election and do this now not next bloody year.
“Lets do this Jacinda”!!!!!
Copying the comment I just finished – elsewhere.
One of those is Simon Mitchell. I've known him for about 25 or so years on a moderately casual basis. He is a lawyer, so knows exactly the consequences of any outright shading of the facts if it heads to court. He has a pretty good reputation in the employment law area.
Personally I have never known him to lie or even to be particularly evasive – which has always been welcome (I'm kind of blunt). Might not tell you everything he knows.
In this case the framing from one of the complainants is that he was informed of a sexual complaint and is lying – which is a direct attack on his reputation. So it appears that he has decided to put his position in public. Probably to the concern of the parliamentary wing.
The spinoff has his full statement
I have to say that is a clear and direct statement targeted specifically at matters of fact that can be determined. As is the response from the complainants lawyer which is a direct refutation of Simon Mitchells statement of facts. Obviously both cannot be correct and are diametrically opposite.
I would anticipate that they are. I can't imagine Simon Mitchell making a statement like that without having the required evidence to back it up. It is way easier to make accusations against a organisation than it is against individuals.
By effectively targeting the members of the panel with statements about the individual volunteers on it saying they are lying, they have just hit the issue of making statements of fact about individuals and the personal liability that goes with it. Also moves it well past the limits of the parliamentary side to control it.
I would say that this will be heading towards court.
And I reiterate my original point – there is no way that the Labour Party should get involved in these kinds of disputes about bullying or sexual misconduct. They are legal matters and have specific remedies inside the legal system.
That being said, if you were involved in a bullying situation, then Simon would be exactly the person you’d want to determine and resolve it. He would also be the first to point any claim or sexual assault directly to the police as the only avenue of redress. As well as being a lawyer and required to do that, I don’t think that he’d ethically do anything else.
What does this arsehole think people are – self-interested drones like her?
This does start to explain why she has been making statements about individuals only under parliamentary privilege. Weak evidence and effectively attacks outside of the politicians on individuals. Ok if you can keep everyone behind a faceless curtain like 'the labour party' – which can't effectively fight back.
Jacinda Ardern doesn't have as much 'control' over members of the NZ Council. The council itself doesn't have much control. They are all volunteers with expenses covered at the most. The council itself is the ruling body of the NZLP. Ardern is a member of the council and leader of the parliamentary wing of MPs
This isn't like the National party. The Labour party is almost entirely volunteers
Paula Bennett really is a complete arsehole. A contemptible politician playing this while aware of the facts. Ducking under parliamentary privilege to avoid being a party to the evntual litigation.
You can see why Simon Bridges isn't involved in this. As a lawyer he'd probably be looking at the questions of evidence and liability and getting terrified.
nice comments – adds some good insight ta
"You can see why Simon Bridges isn't involved in this………."
And why it appears there hasn't been a peep out of almost every other National MP. The coiffured one may not survive the backfire.
"The coiffured one may not survive the backfire."
One can but hope, Kat.
Excuse me , but arseholes are both necessary and useful. Bennet is neither.
Simon Mitchell is a much respected employment lawyer with many wins taking on some of NZ's worst bosses. He is a kind, honest, competent person and I can understand why he felt the need to defend his reputation, even though are saying it wasn't helpful. The other members of the panel will be feeling pretty targeted as well and must be gutted. I agree that the Labour Party Council should only have been involved to the extent of their mandate under the LP constitution. which is about the conduct of party members. This may or may not have been what they were doing. We simply don't know.
I also think it was appropriate that Simon Mitchell issued his statement. As a high profile lawyer holding down an important position within the party, he was entitled to promptly clarify the media-driven speculation. A regular TS commentator, Dukeofurl postulated a plausible answer to the disappearing email attachments here:
If it proves to be something along these lines then I look forward to the profuse apologies from Paula Bennett and that posse of
tabloid hacksjournos who have been conducting their ritual witch-hunt on Labour – especially Jacinda Ardern – at the slightest pretext.
Oh well, it costs nothing to dream.
Sorry. There's a glitch in the system that doesn't allow some of us to link to TS comments.
The comment in question is dukeofurl @ 126.96.36.199
Thanks for that.
Best summation of the parliamentary politics at play.
Yeah, plus the press gallery and their barbaric need to claim scalps.
Either Mitchell is lying or this individual victim is lying. I'd be interested in hearing what the other complainants have to say. What a messy situation.
On the emails, I'm still not clear if they're talking about the same emails, nor what technical issues might have happened to explain the discrepancies.
With the meetings, I think it's really unfortunate that Sarah didn't have representation with her, a support person and note taker, or lawyer.
However I can see a situation where someone in a meeting might be talking on the understanding that the other people in the meeting had emails outlining sexual assault allegations and referring to those, whereas the others in the meeting didn't have the emails and missed the references. Yes, talking about sexual trauma with people you don't know in a formal setting where there is a serious power imbalance is really hard.
I don't know what happened. I am suggesting that it is possible that neither side is lying.
As a feminist focused more on the politics of rape culture and what can be done to make Labour, parliament and NZ safer in that regard, I think not framing this as one side is a liar would be much more helpful.
Good point Weka.
Reading carefully in the two statements, there seems unlikely. Completely ignoring the sexual assault issue and just looking at the two statements
According to Simon Mitchell's statement from his lawyer, before the meeting with the panel on March 9th, he was sent an email referring to an attachment, that wasn't on the email. A second email was directed to someone who could print the attached document – which was done and the copy given to the complainant at the meeting. The panel weren't given a copy. She read from that.
Simon claims that there was nothing said in the meeting about sexual assault. He also says that reading a subsequent print out of that document that there was nothing in there about sexual assault.
The complainant 'Sarah' in her lawyers response says
It is possible that there weren't attachments when it arrived at Mitchells computer. All that takes is that the AV discards them or about 15 other possible causes.
There is no statement about Simon Mitchell emailing back about the missing attachment, if she had a second email sent or where she had a copy of the printed document at the meeting from. There is no statement that the panel members read the document had copies. She says that she read out the information about sexual assault.
It is like the completely different process prior to and during the meeting.
The rest of the statements have the same degree of fundamental disagreement about specific events despite agreeing in several deliveries of emails.
It seems unlikely that there could this degree of disagreement between two people or that there could be this degree of missed emails.
Where is the transcript of the meeting?
It's entirely possible that one or more people in the whole situation is lying. But we don't have all the information and what we do have isn't that clear. Add to that the sexual assault, because it's entirely pertinent to communication (given and received).
I guess it comes down to what people think is important.
For me it's that this gets looked at in a rape culture context and the need to address that as a society. This cannot be done primarily via the justice system. I've pointed out before that to get better laws and legal processes we need MPs as lawmakers who understand rape culture. We don't have this yet in Labour (some MPs get it, others don't, their internal processes aren't good enough yet).
For me this is more important than proving who is telling the truth. Not because the truth is unimportant, but because it's not a trial and there are other, better ways of creating something good from this whole mess.
It's really unfortunate that this has gotten to the lawyer making public statements stage. I think there is responsibility on all the people involved for why it's gotten to this, but I probably see National and the gotcha MSM as the main problem. It's clear that no-one will be allowed to resolve this as adults with compassion and reconciliation and instead everyone is being egged on to conflict and finding the people who should be taken down.
There was apparently a hand written set of notes. No transcript and my guess was not recording either. I wouldn’t run many meetings like that. That was bad.
It appears to have not been sent to Sarah until well after the results of the panel were passed to her. That was just stupid. A written transcript is pretty important to be seen by all parties.
That appears to have been amateur hour for possible criminal complaints or where there is requirement to have a fair hearing. In other words the kind of thing that you get at a police station.
Basically if the NZLP isn’t set up for a possible investigation of possible crimes, then they shouldn’t have been running it. However that is what the panel members and Haworth are claiming that they weren’t doing.
Which is Sarah is claiming that was what they were doing. What I can’t see is why anyone would set up a meeting like what she described for possible sexual assault allegations. Especially a lawyer who specialises in employment law.
This kind of meeting is pretty much what would happen in employment disputes where the conversations are not monitored because the idea is to see if there is common ground, notes are there to form a subsequent agreement if one is possible, and everyone wants a off the record discussion before they go legal.
Which is what this sounds like it was set up as.
The Labour Party Council has a sub- committee that hears complaints about members. There had been complaints about bullying from Young Labour around the time of the Summer Camp incidents at Waihi, and after the investigating into these, there was an invitation for anyone else with complaints to come forward.
Also when we received the Nerruman Report, we accepted most of her recommendations and a policy on behaviour including alcohol use, having a responsible person, etc, at Labour Party events was agreed and sent to all LECs and sectors of the Party.
Note this did not cover behaviour that occurred in a private home.
I am no longer on the Council, but I don’t think it was envisaged that an allegation of serious sexual assault was going to be tabled when the panel was set up. In fact Simon Mitchell is reported as having opened the investigation by saying explicitly it was not to hear allegations of a sexual nature, hence why Honey Heemi told Radio NZ she thought the panel was set up to investigate allegations of bullying. I do not believe the serious sexual assault allegation did get raised with the panel as I know all those who were on that panel and there is no way they would have ignored it had it been raised.
This does not mean the serious sexual assault did not happen, that it was not raised with other senior Party officials, and that support and counselling was not offered. The Party is accused of having a rape culture and being cruel and heartless. That is not my experience.
Finally, while I acknowledge that victims do not always choose to disclose what happened to them to the Police or their employer for their own protection, unfortunately if they don’t, the perpetrator may go on to commit other such crimes.
Good to hear your view from the inside (as it were) – it makes the situation more comprehensible to those of us on the outer…
That was my understanding as well. One of the irritating things was that at this end was that I simply didn’t know who was on the panel. If I had and I knew them, then I’d have happily pointed far earlier my personal assessment of their likely action would have been.
It is one thing to say in general that ignoring a sexual assault was unlikely. It is a completely different things to know that a particular person wouldn’t have. I bet that Simon Mitchell is rope-able about the outright lying by complainants, media and the complete hypocritical political gutter feeder Paula Bennett.
Which is pretty much what I expected. There is little else that the NZLP could cover. Since this appears to be behaviour prior to the report….
It is a source of intense frustration to me that is the case. My own partner was rather adamant that she wouldn’t go to the police if she was in that position. And you can see the reason why when you look at the history of the police in dealing with sexual assaults. Even if you leave aside Rotorua in the 1980s and the roastbusters, just looking at the K3 coding issue was enough to make my blood boil when soemone pointed out Kirsty Johnsons article on it.
But the problem is that just encourages sexual assault because there is no come back.
Must say i'm astounded, Given what the panel was set up to investigate, the background and experience of Simon Mitchell (as you describe above) that minutes wern't taken at every single meeting and promplty circulated to those involved for approval as an accruate record. I struggle to make sense of that to be honest.
That basic step which someone involved in employment law should be very familar with would have been saving alot of grief right now.
I am suggesting that it is possible that neither side is lying.
To me it is becoming increasingly clear that is what happened.
No-one apparently advised the young lady to take a support person who could help her to clarify the situation. She was 19 and probably has never been in such a situation before. She would have been very stressed (but hiding it) and may not have expressed herself clearly. As a result the message she was trying to get through to the panel was lost.
I have to say it would not have helped that one of the panellists kept dodging outside to answer her telephone. That would have been disconcerting for the complainant and may have put her off her stride.
wow, I didn't know that had happened.
I've been in a meeting like that, where the panelists were just downright disrespectful, not intentionally but oblivious to how stressful it was for me and what needed to happen in the meeting to make it just. The power imbalance was blatant. I will say that when panelists/officials are people who see themselves as good people trying to do the right thing, it's hard for them to see where they are getting it wrong, especially around power.
which panelist kept leaving to answer the phone?
I'm not sure.
I've been at a similar meeting. The subject matter was different. Three men (no woman) and one was sitting on top of his desk looking down on me. It was pure intimidation. I was terrified but managed to keep my cool and avoided being tripped up by them. The aftermath suggested they were annoyed they hadn't slayed their quarry. No, I had done nothing to warrant the behaviour but they wanted to believe I was guilty of something.
They were Public Service managers.
PS. I was not informed about the meeting in advance either.
it was different subject matter for me too. I can quite easily see how someone who was still traumatised would struggle in a setting where a) people didn't know about the sexual assault and b) didn't know how to work with survivors.
The coming and going on the phone thing is completely unacceptable even if one thinks the meeting was about bullying. If it was an emergency or urgent set of calls then reschedule the meeting.
With the meetings, I think it’s really unfortunate that Sarah didn’t have representation with her, a support person and note taker, or lawyer.
Given that she is a young Labour member and volunteer, and she was telling an awful story to people in a meeting set up by the Labour Party, Sarah was probably under the mistaken impression that everyone there was there to support her. This is hopelessly naive, but understandable.
Yes, and there's also the fact that she was responding to Labour's inducement. She explained that to the Spinoff. After the summer camp thing Labour requested any further victims to declare themselves. She was right to expect a sympathetic response to her complaint. I agree that it seems hopelessly naive, but you can understand her feeling that the process was a set-up. To re-victimise her.
Spinoff's response to Mitchell: "The complainant (the person called “Sarah” in the Spinoff’s article of 9 September) has records of three emails sent by her to Simon Mitchell between 9 March 2019 and 21 May 2019 in which Mr Mitchell was made aware of there being allegations of sexual assault. These emails have been provided to Labour Party lawyers Kensington Swan, who have been requested to provide the emails to the reviewers conducting the independent review of the internal investigation."
My guess is that the Spinoff would not tell the public this unless it was true. Looks like the emails identify Simon Mitchell by name as recipient, else why would the Spinoff journos be so forthright?
I’d be very interested in if the emails were supplied as electronic or printed.
In particular if they still countian the routings. Then it would be possible to look for copies in the various systems if there are differences between them.
Email attachment problems in parliament as well
"When he sought clarification from Parliamentary Service, Mr Hipkins said he was told they had blocked it on the basis the document attached to his email contained "sensitive words" that were in violation of government security classifications"
Maybe email attachments security software has watchwords that are likely to occur in a complaint about sexual assault ?
It's possible then the complainant’s attachments were blocked which could explain the conflicting stories.
Only partially. It would explain the competing perceptions of the emails, but Sarah told Spinoff she made the complaints verbally, in person, as well.
I did give a possible explanation @ 4.1.3 for that verbal exchange which I understand took place when the complainant was interviewed by the panel .
Even typing the words "interviewed by the panel" sends shivers up and down my spine. I've been through that scenario more than once and it's just so hard trying to get your point across to people you know don't understand what you are trying to tell them.
I'm not casting aspersions on the senior members who made up that panel. I'm sure they were doing their best. But individuals who have never been through the type of experiences a victim is trying to describe, often don't pick up the signals you are sending.
I truly think this is exactly what happened in this case.
Either Mitchell is lying or this individual victim is lying. I'd be interested in hearing what the other complainants have to say. What a messy situation.
Let us not forget that Sarah is only one of twelve people who have complained.
Also, let us not forget that where sexual assault/rape/harrassment is concerned, only a fraction of the incidents ever result in complaints.
What I'm saying is, don't fixate on what Sarah did or didn't say to the Labour Party's lawyer as if answering that question represents any sort of achievement.
[lprent: Lets not forget that the panel and everyone else in the Labour process have been saying that the sexual assault/rape allegations weren’t raised to them. You have just asserted that it was. That is defamatory.
Please keep trying to make me liable. I am really looking forward to kicking your snarky lying arse off the site permanently.
Second warning. ]
Mitchell I believe, is using the services of an employment relations lawyer that our company has used in the past from SBM legal. Not sure if that's a good sign or not.
Simon Mitchell is an employment relations lawyer. Perhaps that will allay your concerns. /sarc
Lawyers tend to separate themselves from performing their personal legal cases themselves. With good (and if you think about it) good reasons.
The most extreme case comes when you watch a private prosecution by a litigant. Watching Dermot Nottingham in court over the last few years trying to present a case against me and others has been a revelation of incompetence, why personal involvement is a bad idea, and the patience of judges for lay litigants.
They don’t exhibit the same patience for lawyers – in fact they tend to towards the contempt of the competent to the amateur and exercise the sarcastic with of the Socratic method.
Not sure how well the magistrates or mediators fare if it is that kind of level. But this does look more likely to be a court issue.
"The initial email sent to Mitchell in March 2019 did not have a statement attached to it."
I think you mean the initial email received? (Mitchell can only see what he received).
We don't know if those are the same emails. I guess we will wait for the inquiry, but it shouldn't be too hard to make a timeline of both sets of emails and see which each are talking about. At the moment it seems unclear.
So what was she complaining about then? If there was no sexual assault mentioned. I am sure someone here can enlighten me on that.
And Mickey, you may want to remember the fuss the left made when John Key was pulling the poneytail of some waitress in front of his wife. I find your comments about the right quite rich due to this. What you are basically saying is “it’s ok when the left do it”? Sorry life does not work that way.
Fact is the Labour Party and Jacinta told everyone that their core values were not to allow or tolerate females facing any form of intimidation in the workplace and for their rights as a women to be respected. What has been alleged by Sarah shows the exact opposite has occurred in the Prime Ministers office for Heavens sake. It’s no different to if I was elected based on saying I wanted to increases everyone’s wages and I then went and abolished the minimum wage. It’s hypocritical and going against your core values and why your voters voted for you. It must be very disappointing for those who really believed in Jacinda.
"What you are basically saying is “it’s ok when the left do it”? Sorry life does not work that way."
Really? Because I thought he was saying that Labour are looking at where they failed and National are being arseholes. Which is how I see it too.
From a feminist analysis of rape culture, National are making things far, far worse here than they need to be. Maybe they lack the skills to support survivors, or maybe they're happy to sacrifice these particular survivors and survivors generally to gain political advantage (both imo). This matches my observation of National over a long period of time. It doesn't help survivors to pretend somehow that what National are doing is ok, or to ignore the damage National are doing, because Labour fucked up badly as if we should only focus on them.
"From a feminist analysis of rape culture, National are making things far, far worse here than they need to be. Maybe they lack the skills to support survivors, or maybe they're happy to sacrifice these particular survivors and survivors generally to gain political advantage (both imo). This matches my observation of National over a long period of time. It doesn't help survivors to pretend somehow that what National are doing is ok, or to ignore the damage National are doing, because Labour fucked up badly as if we should only focus on them."
This is the analysis I want to read – ta weka
Thanks Weka. Some good analysis here.
… you may want to remember the fuss the left made when John Key was pulling the poneytail of some waitress in front of his wife.
I certainly do. The fuss was to a significant extent about the National Party's response to the news that its leader had amused himself with repeatedly humiliating a low-wage worker serving him by pulling her hair, despite her requests for him not to do it. The party's approach was that humiliating servants is just a bit of fun and that physical assault isn't a crime if there are no injuries. It also involved getting the victim's employers to pressure her into giving an interview to a Nat-friendly journalist as a damage-mitigation exercise. None of those involved has ever expressed the view that the party's approach to the incident wasn't exemplary.
Comparing that response with Labour's response to these allegations is quite instructive, and if anything supports Micky Savages comments in his post.
At what point do I say that Nationals handling of the ponytail affair was great? Let me simplify it for you. My point is the lefts response to the Key saga was no better than the rights response to Sarah’s allegations. Mickey, and the left are acting like National are blowing the Sarah thing out of proportion. Perhaps so, depends on your view of it but the left also blew the pony tail saga out of proportion.
What was Labour's response to Key's harrassment of the waitress?
While it's true that some on the left will also misuse situations to score politic points against National, there are some important differences here. One is that the left has politics based in ethics that guide responses to abuse, sexual assault, and harassment. The right doesn't. ie the left leads on addressing those issues. Not perfectly, and I have plenty of critiques of the left on what they don't do, or what they do badly. But there is still an important difference here.
The other is that National have a long history of supporting rape culture in the Key years,
hashtag idiot boy troll.
147 10:25 AM – Sep 18, 2019
…depends on your view of it but the left also blew the pony tail saga out of proportion.
Not really. In the hair-pulling case, a lot of people on the left were outraged that their prime minister had repeatedly assaulted a waitress and then set her employers and a tame journo on her when she spoke out about it. In the current case, a lot of people on the right are professing themselves outraged that Labour didn't do a very good job of investigating complaints about a party member. Only one of those seems out of proportion to me, and it ain't the hair-pulling one.
is it the one that involves a man holding a woman down by the throat and forcing his fingers into her vagina?
just kidding, I know that whatever John Key did must be worse
[hard to see what you bring to the site overall. Lynn has you on two warnings (lying, defamation). I’ve already warned you on this topic to be careful about not causing aggro in the conversation. I see that Lynn warned you recently about doing KDS soundbites. I think we can do without the hassle at the moment. Two week ban. Bans from me will now increase exponentially – weka]
[lprent: damn – I was hoping for enough rope so I would deal with him more permanently. I’m not sure that this small animal was worth a reprieve. ]
You seem confused. The Labour Party doesn't get to investigate allegations of serious crimes and prosecute them, you're mixing them up with the Police. Nice attempt to exploit someone else's misery to score cheap points on a comments thread though, you must be very proud.
" We don't know if those are the same emails. I guess we will wait for the inquiry, but it shouldn't be too hard to make a timeline of both sets of emails and see which each are talking about. At the moment it seems unclear "
And that Weka sums up this whole mess.
More level headed mature individuals would wait until the inquiry has reached a conclusion.
Politics is not about level headed mature individuals. For National it is about conniving desperate ones polluting the minds of gormless ones.
In regards to "Sarah” are there not many other complainants that came forward and complained about inappropriate behaviour? I was of the understanding that this was a multiple victim investigation? Did these other people not officially complain or have any correspondence with Labour officials?
Spinoff informed us that Sarah is not the only person who complained about sexual assault. Didn't provide any details of any other incidents though. The purpose of the panel was to investigate bullying so most complaints were about that.
"Spinoff informed us that Sarah is not the only person who complained about sexual assault"
The party panel wouldnt be telling complainants what 'other complaints are' of if there was any at all.
Sarah may have 'heard about' from others.
Why would she moving away from her credible story into 'rumours' about others is a worry.
Is Spinoff a Journalist- Copywriters website playing a drip feed of information
When you say "heard about" Winston Peters on the radio when I was out referred to something that tends towards that and referred to A, B abd C. If I heard it right "C" sounded to be the complainant about what "A" allegedly "did to" "B" and that it would become clear after the investigation. That also tends towards it being said that Bennett was basing her allegations on 2nd and/or 3rd hand information.
The contention of the volunteer council panel members including Simon Mitchell and the party president who was (also?) involved in some initial interviews is that sexual assault allegations weren't raised.
This is a rather large and diverse audience to try to keep quiet if it was raised at that panel meeting.
Jacinda Arden appears to have been looking at correspondence and is unhappy about the process, but doesn't state the source (as far as I can see) of that correspondence.
I'm unhappy about the process as well – but for different reasons. As soon as either an sexual assault or a physical assault came up, the Labour Council should have backed off and urged that the complaint be taken to the police.
You do mediation or whatever about bullying. But any assault is a criminal issue.
"You do mediation or whatever about bullying. But any assault is a criminal issue."
Absolutely! The mere mention of sexual assault would be like a red rag to a bull – prompting immediate action at a higher level.
It is inconceivable that council members, if confronted by allegations of sexual assault would not have backed off and referred to complainant to the police.
You do not know that the complainant was not advised to go to the Police, but chose not to. From what I have read the complainants wanted the Party to deal with their complaints. I have what is called these days "lived experience" of sexual abuse. There is no way I would have gone to the Police not only to protect myself but to protect other people.
On the subject of who was on the panel, another panel member was Tracey McLellan who is an experienced union organiser with a background in psychology from a union that has an extensive anti-harassment and anti-bullying programme, including for their delegates. I was on the Labour Party Council with her and I can say she is very compassionate and very astute.
Many of us on the Labour Party Council at the time I was involved (up till last year) have had sexual harassment training and experience. I was a trained sexual harassment contact at AUT when I was a senior lecturer there in the 1990s and I have worked with victims of sexual harassment as a union organiser ever since. I offered, through the Labour Women's Network, to be a support contact when allegations were raised in late 2017. It is quite galling to hear experts lecturing us on how we need to have training.
I support Jacinda in saying Labour should have a "victim centred" approach and indeed the complainant did receive support from the Labour Party Assistant General Secretary Dianna Lacy as she said so herself to Alex Casey in the Spinoff. But the targeting of the Council and of the entire Labour Party is in my view misplaced. It was a Parliamentary staffer who is accused of bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, but as soon as he resigned, that was the end of attention on him.
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Hoots, Gooner, Vancealot, Hosk, Duplicitous, Pullya, Soimon etc etc the list goes on it's basically down to those who are in the parliamentary wing and those outside it.
All working to the same ends and similar techniques.
I am sure things will change now a lawyer has come forward is lets see how far pull da benny is prepared to go
Thus why trial by media is a joke. All the media (or the opposition) needs to be is exciting and popular each day – right or wrong.
A real trial has some responsibility to get all the facts in order and then draw a conclusion.
I would like to know – if the RW got their wish and got Ardern to resign over this media shitshow, who else in NZ politics would anyone possibly want to lead?
likely only the overly ambitious and unprincipled….just what we need more of (not)
What a marvellous web to trap 'fly' people from Labour in. (Excellent work from Crosstext?) National initiative to embarass Labour and create an ongoing stain that they can bring up at will for the next century. Knowing that the matter will require secrecy out of respect for the complainant, but offers high public interest and Gnatty 'whispers' can abound to media. Is payback for Labour stance re Jami- Lee Ross that hurt National.
Woman has a real grievance, has problems with operating important matters in her and the nation's life, from her hand-held Smart phone or the like. So has become confused and then angry that so little consideration has been given to her and forced the issue in a vengeful way by going to Gnats? If so Labour officials have brought this on themselves by not having or following respectful and effective process that should apply to any citizen.
Woman has real grievance, and is disappointed with response from Labour, feels brushed off, and is confused between what she thought she would do, and what she actually did? She has aroused emotional sympathy from sensitive people of the female gender who will take up the cudgels for her complaints relating to sex and lack of respect for her complaints of violation at face value?
Woman is making a point, running a test case, her thoughts are that she should reveal Labour's masculine and callous bias against women?
It appears that whatever the scenario, that the Labour people involved were careless and buck-passing and unwise. I think that is a fair judgment on them.
Is payback for Labour stance re Jami- Lee Ross that hurt National.
No. Labour made a point of staying out of that debacle. Jacinda Ardern is on record making it clear it was a matter for the National Party to resolve and she would not be commenting. It's called having principles which Jacinda has in spades. Bennett has none.
If it was payback then it would be because they lost the treasury benches in 2017.
And no. The sexual assualt complainant ‘sarah’ has said she was not one of those who approached Paula Bennett.
Anne, did you comment the other day about Labour's response to JLR? I'm trying to find the comment that described this but can't remember who made it or key words.
I recall mentioning the JLR case in a comment where I listed three instances of abuse within the National Party in recent years. But I think others might have gone into more detail, Don’t remember who.
I do recall Jacinda's comment where she made it clear she would not be commenting on the JLR case because it was an internal matter for the National Party.
Oh, I do remember PG taking umbridge at my list, claiming they were nothing like the current Labour case. 🙁
That might have been the catalyst for me telling him to “eff off” – which he’s been in a funk about since. 😉
I think this was in Annes comment from the other day
'Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern directed her Government ministers not to comment on Jami-Lee Ross and his relationship with the National Party, Newshub can reveal.
If they did talk, they needed to show compassion and she even provided talking points instructing them what to say.'
It was pretty much like it was here. Very low key. Labour really didn’t say much at all.
News media were all over it. Despite it looking like there was something seriously pretty disturbed going on.
Mickey was doing posts as news came up. I think we were mostly looking on with astonishment. I stepped in a few times when there was speculation on names of female MPs.
Grey. You would not find a single comment from Labour re the 4 women complainants over the Jamie-lee Ross episode. Jacinda consciously issued the position which was to let the issue be resolved by the people involved for the sake of those hurt. Of course the complainants had to sign a confidentiality agreement and the issue was disappeared.
The truly despicable angle in both these cases, is Bennett's attitude.
I seem to recall in the taped conversation between Bridges, Bennett and Ross, the implication that several victims could be 'found' to put pressure on Ross to comply.
Similarly here, not a thought for the victims, just politicising another's pain for their own gain.
As soon as it appears online I will link to Paula Bennett in the House just now. After asking question after question that were either inaccurate or out of order and designed to create disorder, Speaker Mallard refused to let her ask any more questions. He should have thrown her out.
Thanks Anne, however I need to shower after watching that heartless, desperate display by the deputy leader of the National Party.
Whomever is advising the member for Upper Harbour, they are doing a terrible job.
She is going for the Evening news headlines.
And to think back to the Richard Worth escapades , barely 9 months after the 2008 election, Labour came aware of the situation and let a quiet word to national party.
And when it all blew up , Whaleoil was leaked harmful information about the complainant womans family , as we now know was a Dirty Politics hit job direct from the beehive.
Am I mistaken or did the alleged victims not approach Bennett. Ifs that’s the case she should ask as many questions as she can I should have thought. We know Bennett is an opportunist but shouldn’t you be aiming your arrows at Sarah?! Simon the Lawyer and other staffers involved. Your fixation on Bennett is verging on illogical.
it would appear that Bennett wasnt approached by anyone directly involved…but she has manufactured a narrative to infer that she was
I wrote the above because these are things that will come up as questions or reckons in people's minds. It is good to keep getting solid info arising from this unpleasant miasma.
Mickysavage's post above does a lot to clear the confusion. But most people won't see it unfortunately.
I put up again some of the main news releases.
Newshub had been looking into complaints against a Labour staffer made as early as March 2019, involving seven, apparently all women. https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/09/labour-assault-bullying-claims-everything-you-need-to-know.html
The individual 'Sarah' tells her own story Sept 9th: https://thespinoff.co.nz/unsponsored/09-09-2019/a-labour-volunteer-alleged-violent-sexual-assault-by-a-senior-staffer-this-is-her-story/
Sept 11th item backgrounds and updates: https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/11-09-2019/fresh-evidence-emerges-confirming-labour-was-told-of-sexual-assault-allegations-on-june-11/
Sept 11th: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/11/new-zealand-labours-president-resigns-over-handling-of-sexual-assault-inquiry
Sept 16th: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/115837166/labour-lawyer-i-wasnt-told-of-sexual-assault-claims
Anne thinking about what you have said.
Although PM Ardern made it clear that officially Labour would stand clear from the matter of JLR, there was plenty of unofficial Labour discussion about it. That would have been bruising to National and further soured their dispositions and revealed their lack of principles, which they could well be eager to rebound to Labour.
The main person we have heard about, Sarah, didn't go to Paula Bennett. Then the other complainants who did are of interest. What is their situation in all of this? Did they approach Ms Bennett without advising or consulting 'Sarah'? It is mentioned that the other complaints were about bullying which is what the Labour panel was set up to deal with. Did they feel dissatisfied with how they were dealt with, and what did they want to happen?
Hon PAULA BENNETT to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her and her Government’s statements and actions?
Q9 in nzqt today: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/order-paper-questions/list-of-oral-questions/oral-questions-17-september-2019/
Bennett tried and failed to extract any further information about the PM's staffers. The PM is not responsible to the house for their conduct, only for that of Ministers.
Ardern urges a stop to public speculation: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/398937/pm-jacinda-ardern-calls-time-on-public-exchanges-over-sexual-assault-allegations
She said Mr Mitchell's statement was motivated by a desire to defend a reputation, but that no one was served by this.
Mr Mitchell is clearly served by defending himself regards the insinuation that he and his fellow inquiry members have been slack and have misled the PM. He is permitted to refute that insinuation.
'Permitted' by who though? Tacit and structural power is at the core of situations like these.
But an important white male lawyer can't be publicly contradicted by a young woman. Such a thing cannot be allowed to stand – no matter what Jacinda says about avoiding a trial by media.
[lprent: Not what anyone, including me, has been saying at all. What they have said is that individuals who have had an allegation of lying made against them in public have the right to refute it in public regardless who it is. If you wish to address that, then please do so rather than dick waving the snarky comments.
BTW: If you want to get booted from here, then please keep lying. I’m getting a bit sick and tired of you spinning things. I’d prefer to keep warning until I can ban you permanently. So please take all of the rope you want.
This is you first warning… ]
Lawyers have reputations worth defending, we're told. As do used car dealers and politicians.
For the avoidance of doubt, that was <sarcasm>.
99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name …
More concise: STFU!
What this issue demonstrates is that when there’s a leadership spillage in the National Party, as there will be, Paula won’t be standing by her man but will be gunning for his job.
The minute Paula Bennett strangely turned up as somehow privy to secret information about an internal Labour Party issue I started to worry.
Is this another Donghui Liu affair which will turn out to be fabricated? I hope not because there are very real problems with people being able to open up and report sexual assault, but would I put it past National to misuse the #metoo movement and the increasing tendency to view accusations as guilty until proven innocent to their political advantage? Of course I wouldn’t, because they have a history of disgusting acts.
Now it seems we have a PM who says the first she heard of sexual assault was in the Spinoff (and yes I fully believe her on that), the party head says they handled the complaints appropriately, and is now gone, the Parliamentary staffer says they didn’t do it, and now they’re gone, the lawyer involved says they can prove sexual assault was not mentioned in any complaints, and the media are having a field day.
National have a history of using media partners to defame Labour, and I hope for the wellbeing of our society they haven’t stooped this low…. but this is really getting dodgy.
You mean all those complainants (12 according to one report) aren't really members of the Labour Party, it's just media aligned with National claiming they are? I thought it was an internal Labour process that produced the complaints. I don't see how National could conjure that up. Making the complainants anonymous does help create public speculation that they are National plants, but really it's too much of a stretch.
Paula's just being opportunistic: complainants need someone to fight from their corner, due to the lack of victim's advocates in the process, so seems unsurprising that they asked for her help to advance their complaints.
Who in their right mind would go to Paula Bennett for help with this!? Going to see Little Miss “I’ll leak personal details when it’s to my political advantage” about a sexual assault complaint?
Who says it was meant to be a strictly logical and rational decision?
Maybe it was one of those chance situations, e.g. another person (PB?) at a particular time and place? Or something that got picked up by chance and one thing leads to another?
Almost everybody seems to be scratching their heads and searching for logical rational answers or explanations when there might not be (m)any – human behaviour is much more influenced by emotional and sub-conscious impulses than we like to acknowledge or admit. In hindsight, we often try to ‘rationalise’ our actions but we are kidding ourselves by putting a nice spin on things to feel better or less bad about ourselves – we are more ‘skilled’ at this than we realise, IMHO.
Yeah, it is New Zealand. The village cross connections are pretty damn intense sometimes.
Cluthcing at straws. This is Labour's mess to sort out.
well said Dennis, suggesting that this is a National Conspiracy is laughable.
[lprent: Perhaps you could try to use the Reply button? Hard to know who are responding to because of your simple incompetence. Dennis Frank perhaps…]
You may be right Alan, to design and carry out such a Machiavellian and sordid conspiracy National would most likely require some outside assistance, similar to "Dirty Politics". They couldn't possibly be that stupid……..could they. Yes just being "opportunistic" must be the sole reason.
This sudden belief that Simon Bridges' National Party would suddenly become expertly competent manipulators of members of Young Labour, having spent the last two years failing to distinguish between their arse and their elbow, is certainly remarkable.
Q2 was interesting. Paula Bennett had questions disallowed, warned about question aimed to be disallowed so she could use them in public using Parliamentary privilege. Did it once too often then lost the rest of her questions.
The final response from Jacinda was brilliant. Re what actions are benefitting the complainants. Should be posted on every news outlet.
Specially from about 4:40
Yes, quite the performance. I wonder why questions ruled out of order would be subsequently covered by privilege?
Yes, Paula's questions didn't get any traction and she was effectively wasting Parliament’s time. But I was surprised that the PM seemed to get Louise Nicholas's name wrong.
This could be cover-up, bluff, crossed wires, misunderstandings, all sorts of stuff. We won't know until after the inquiry comes out.
But after Howarth's abrupt resignation, I think the appropriate expression is "once bitten, twice shy".
Or 'twice bitten, once dead'.
Not sure if this has already been said or not, my apologies if it has, but this whole nasty saga has Crosby Textor all over it and Bennett would be a very willing tool for them. Attack politics relies on spreading fake news and innuendo as widely as possible in the sure knowledge that some of it will stick. Mitchell had no option than to go public – Bennett forced him into this by naming him – I am a little disappointed that Jacinda admonished his actions in her press meeting yesterday.
Yep if I was in Simon's position I would have done the same.
I agree…assuming his account is accurate.
Marcus, I am very impressed how Jacinda cleverly admonished further public litigation in her press meeting yesterday.
[lprent: This site has nested comments – if you want to reply to someone then use the reply link. Otherwise your moronic trolling comment gets even more meaningless after a few intelligent people have actually used the reply facility. ]
Please accept my apology for not pressing the reply facility.
"moronic trolling comment…." I think its best if I leave you with that one.
Matthew Hooton's site has gone offline… http://www.exceltium.com/
There has been a huge amount of stuff said and written about this, the only thing we can be sure about is there is a conflict between a male staff member and several female staff members, and two people have resigned , when this is sorted there is going to be a hell of a lot of people who have made statements that will be proved to be wrong, well good luck to them
peterh: The most outspoken in Bennett's team will cry, foul, whitewash, coverup and certainly won't apologise for the hurt to the complainants.
Some actual facts would be useful.
Out of all this, and in my opinion, Paula Bennett is coming across as someone who lacks morals or let alone any sense of credibility. She is opportunistic and of course self-serving. She is someone I wouldn't trust as far as I would like to throw her. How a so-called office worker in parliament would want to go to her or let alone trust her considering her past track record really beggars belief???!!!!!
I have also completely switched off from reading the tabloid NZ herald(deliberate putting the word herald in lower case here). Its(the heralds) almost religious obsession to take down Jacinda Ardern and the government is coming across as highly hypocritical especially as they(the herald)lacked any voice of condemnation when John Key was pulling mostly young human females ponytails, Aaron Gilmore was bullying a waiter, Paul Foster Bells workplace bullying and Paula Bennett's breach of the right to privacy for beneficiaries that criticised the National government of the day, Gerry Brownlees's 'running late for a plane', Bill English demeaning NZers by telling us we are living beyond our means whilst he was 'too busy' Double Dipping.
The level of mainstream media involvement in events now that shows how clearly and deeply the mainstream NZ media are into the NZ National Party pocket is concerning.
I request a major review or enquiry is lodged in regards to the political influence a previous government has on the mainstream NZ media because it's dangerous and shows how manipulative the mainstream NZ media has become especially at the whim of the NZ National Party.
If the mainstream NZ media are allowed to continue in the manner they are then I think all NZers should be worried. A controlled media who are in the pocket of a political party that conducted witch-hunts on those journalists that deeply questioned especially intelligently the antics of the past National government and is still under the total control of the NZ National Party to this day is a media that is rotten to the core.