On Q+A this morning, Phil Goff was asked by Paul Holmes for more detail on why John Key wasn’t surprised when he took the sexual harassment complaint against Richard Worth to him.
According to Goff, Key said that he had been aware of rumours of similar activity by Worth and that was one reason why he had not been made Speaker.
That’s quite an astounding admission from Key (and not just that he would give away such info to the opposition). Key announced the decision that Lockwood Smith would be Speaker and Richard Worth Internal Affairs Minister on November 17. The decisions not to make Worth Speaker (he was one of four candidates) and make him a minister were, to state the obvious, made before Worth was appointed as minister. Which means Key knew about ‘rumours’ of him sexually harassing women before he was a minister.
Now, Worth was offering the woman who has complained of sexual harassment jobs that he could appoint as Minister of Internal Affairs. So that must have been after he was appointed minister. Key can’t have been aware of rumours about Worth’s behaviours towards her when he chose not to make Worth Speaker. The rumours must have concerned other women.
Key must have considered the rumours credible, seriously inappropriate and more than mere unfaithfulness to his wife, rather an abuse of power, to constitute ruling out Worth as Speaker because of them.
There is now also a very serious question over Key’s negligence in the events that have led to the investigation of Worth for a sexual offence. Key knew Worth was misusing his power as an MP and a minister to take advantage of women sexually. He knew about it in November, before the alleged sexual assault took place in March.
If Key had acted when he should of by removing Worth from the position of power he was using to exploit women, the alleged sexual assault (in which Worth used his power as minister) might have been avoided.
This is not about whether Key should have known the behaviour might get worse. It’s about whether if he had acted as he should have when he should have by not appointing Worth or removing his portfolios on the basis of information relating to other misdeeds by Worth he might have helped prevent worse events in the future.