Allegations of inappropriate behaviour being made public always run a risk.
Sometimes they reflect a one off episode of bad behaviour. There is nothing better to deal with this than a serious attempt at atonement unaffected by calculations of personal interest.
Other times they are evidence of deeply shitty behaviour and publication of the news makes others who have also been subject to shitty behaviour to come forward.
This may be the case with Sam Uffindell whose allegation of bullying of a 13 year old Kings College has been followed up with an allegation that he acted inappropriately to a Student flatmate. From Craig McCulloch at Radio New Zealand:
National MP Sam Uffindell has been stood down from the party’s caucus while an investigation is carried out into further allegations of bullying raised by RNZ.
A woman who flatted with the Tauranga MP at university in 2003 has told RNZ’s Morning Report Uffindell was an aggressive bully who once pounded on her bedroom door, screaming obscenities, until she fled through her window.
In a statement issued late Tuesday night, Uffindell denied claims he engaged in “intimidatory or bullying” behaviour, but said there was a falling-out between flatmates.
The allegations are serious:
Uffindell’s former flatmate, who RNZ has agreed not to name, lived with the man and three other Otago University students for several months in Dunedin in 2003.
She told RNZ Uffindell engaged in a pattern of bullying during their second year at university, describing him as “verbally aggressive”.
Uffindell would trash the house after “excessive” use of alcohol and drugs, she said.
“This was intimidation. This was bullying. I didn’t feel safe,” she said.
The woman said she eventually moved out of the flat after having to lock herself in her bedroom to avoid a drunken outburst one night.
“He was smashing on my door and yelling obscenities and basically telling me to get out – ‘hit the road, fatty’.
“I ended up climbing out of my bedroom window and ran to a friend’s house to stay the night. I feared for my safety. I was scared.”
The woman said it was not an isolated incident: “it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Her father travelled to Dunedin the next day to help her move out, she said.
Speaking to RNZ, the woman’s father corroborated his part in the story and said his daughter had been “seriously upset”.
“The flat itself was completely trashed. There wasn’t a stick of furniture left. There was no crockery left. There were no handles left on anything. It had all been broken.”
He said he gave Uffindell and two of the other flatmates “a serious piece of [his] mind” at the time.
“It was clear… [Uffindell] had real issues, real problems… he was out of control.”
The woman said she was traumatised by the event and did her best to avoid Uffindell from then on: “my stomach would absolutely flip and drop if I saw him.”
Looking back, the woman said she should have spoken to someone or taken some sort of action, but she was too scared. Uffindell never apologised for his actions, she said.
She said people may try to excuse Uffindell’s actions because of his age, but the pattern of behaviour revealed his character.
If this complaint is confirmed you have to question how careful National’s candidate vetting was. And you have to wonder what personal issues the other candidates had that caused the Selection Panel to prefer Uffindell.
I anticipate that Labour will continue to keep out of this.
And it may pay for the Electoral Commission to start planning for a new Tauranga By Election. If this allegation has merit then Uffindell is in big trouble.