Complainants explain why they cut ties with Labour over handling of bullying, sexual assault allegations

Two more complainants in the Labour Party bullying and sexual harassment investigation have spoken out about why they cut ties with Labour.

Newshub has been told they found the party's response so traumatising that they didn't want to be members anymore.

One of the complainants has told Newshub, "I don't want to be part of an organisation that allows abuse to happen to people."

Another complainant was asked if it was a difficult decision for them to give up their membership, and replied, "It was, yeah."

"The point where they're letting all of us down, it just doesn't seem worth it."

Seven people laid complaints about bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault by a Labour staffer. The party's insisting it did nothing wrong despite being forced to review its processes.

Labour Party president Nigel Haworth said he is "confident the party's behaved absolutely appropriately throughout that process".

But the complainants completely disagree, with one saying they felt "pretty awful - it was just like they were trying to protect [the accused] trying to protect someone higher up and just silence us".

One said they felt "re-traumatised" and "didn't feel like we were believed - we felt he was given the benefit of the doubt right from the start".

Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday, the party is currently looking at "whether or not the appropriate process was undertaken".

Newshub has been investigating this story for nearly a month. The list of complaints about the party process includes:

  • a lack of communication
  • the length of time to reply to complainants was "unacceptable", with no response in some cases
  • complainants weren't shown transcripts of their interviews to check for accuracy before they went to the alleged perpetrator, outing their names to him

"A lot of us had issues with our testimonies that that wasn't exactly what we said," one of the complainants said.

They said the accused received them before they saw them.

One complainant also said they heard nothing from the party between 9 March when interviews took place, until a phone call on 16 June informing them no disciplinary action would be taken against the staffer.

Haworth told Newshub: "I'm very clear that we have communicated extensively widely and consistently with those people."

When asked if he was suggesting the complainants are lying, he reiterated: "I'm saying we communicated with them consistently through that period".

Labour has been forced to review the investigation process, though not the outcome.

But the Prime Minister said the party needs to be "open to the fact that we don't always get it right".

The investigation was the first test of new party policies since its botched handling of the Young Labour summer camp last year.

The Prime Minister said she wanted to have someone "independent of the Labour Party" look at the issue and "tell us whether or not all the things we found out from the summer camp have been appropriately learnt".

But the review is not independent. Newshub has been leaked a party email proposing the party's solicitor undertake the review.

"I don't have any faith whatsoever that our concerns have been taken seriously," one of the complainants said. 

The review will not relitigate the allegations, but if it does find the process failed, it could call into question the decision not to take disciplinary action against the staffer. 

Newshub has been told by the complainants that none of them have been contacted to have their say in the review process. 


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