There’s still a lot of confusion on the Right, in particular, about the sequence of events in the Worth saga, so I’ve tried to reconstruct it below (btw, thanks to John Armstrong for using his time machine and advising us “The [Dover] Samuels case had negligible impact on the new [Labour-led] government’s subsequent fortunes. The same applies to Richard Worth’s fall from grace” Could he also tell us the results of the next five elections, so we can just can them? You old hack). Anyway, the timeline:
November 2008-February 2009: Worth offers a woman, who happens to be a Labour member, two jobs in return for sexual favours and leaving Labour to join National. This a clear case of corruption and abuse of power. He makes contact about 100 times over this period becoming more sexually aggressive. He is sometimes apparently drunk and sexually harasses her. Phil Goff becomes aware of this late last year and offers to take the matter up privately with John Key but the woman does not want to take the matter further fearing publicity.
Late February: Worth visits India as a minister. During that time he promotes the business activities of several enterprises with which he is associated. A classic conflict of interest for which ministers are routinely sacked.
Early (?) March: Worth entertains a woman as minister in Wellington, gets her drunk, and books her into a hotel room. He stays and something of a sexual nature happens. The woman, as is common in cases of a sexual nature, does not lay a complaint initially.
Late March/early April: Labour raises issues over Worth’s conflict of interest in his visit to India. Key gives him a ‘bollocking’ but no punishment. So much for one strike. This contrasts with his idol, Keith Holyoake, who was once asked permission by a minister to go on a trip that would have raised a conflict of interest. Holyoake denied permission and sacked the minister.
mid-April: Worth visits Jamil Sandhu after he is allegedly assaulted by the son of the mate of Worth’s. The purpose of Worth’s visit is never adequately explained although his version of events is at odds with the family, who say he introduced himself in his ministerial capacity. Clearly, he was trying to use his power to do a favour for his mate.
May 6: The first woman has a change of heart and takes up Goff’s offer. Goff speaks to Key on the phone, relating the woman’s complaint. Key is not surprised. he has heard rumours of similar behaviour by Worth. Key (or his office, he’s not clear) confronts Worth on the issue. Worth denies all and signs a file note that he would sign an affidavit to that effect and threatens to sue the woman and Labour if the issue is made public.
May 7 or 8: Key’s office reports to Goff’s office that Worth denies the events but has been placed on notice about this kind of behaviour. The woman wants to avoid publicity. The matter is allowed to rest on the assurance that Worth will not be behaving like this in the future.
Mid May: The woman who alleges Worth committed a sexual offence against her take her complaint to Police.
May 26: Key informed of Police investigation over Worth. Keeps suspected sex offender, whom he has also been told was earlier using his power corruptly in relation to least one other woman, in his portfolios and keeps the news quiet so as not to spoil the Budget.
June 3: Worth announces resignation. Key initially refuses to give any details and says he won’t be giving any. That lasts two hours. He acknowledges there is a ‘criminal matter’ involving Worth. Later he says that Worth had “been making a nuisance of himself towards women” (note, women). Phil Goff confirms rumours that he had taken a complaint about sexual harassment by Worth to Key on behalf of a complainant.
June 4: Key refuses to believe the veracity of the story from woman who claims sexual harassment. In perhaps the worst performance by a Prime Minister since the schnapps election, Key insists to National Radio’s Mary Wilson that the complainant needs to go public and says he will make public any information he gives her. Eventually Wilson gets him to agree that a private meeting will suffice. His office calls NatRad to complain about Wilson (better to be interviewed by his mate Plunket than some uppity sheila).
June 5: Key says that he didn’t sack Worth because of the alleged sexual offence but for another, non-criminal matter relating to the same events as the alleged sexual offence (this is at odds with previous statements when he has said Worth’s sacking is over a “criminal matter”). Key won’t reveal what the non-criminal matter is. Goff recounts his phone conversation with Key over the sexual harassment issue. Says Key was not surprised as he had heard rumours of such activity. Goff arranges private meeting for Key with the woman. Key pulls out at the last moment.
Key has handled this appallingly. He has failed to do the bare minimums expected of a Prime Minister. There are more questions that need answering: