Labour assault, bullying claims: Everything you need to know

Newshub has been investigating allegations of sexual assault, harassment, intimidation and bullying against a Labour party staff member for the past two months.

The story was first broken to the public by political editor Tova O'Brien five weeks ago.

What are the allegations?

Newshub first reported allegations including sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying against a Labour Party staffer on 5 August.

The alleged victims had taken complaints about the staffer to the Labour Party executive. The complaints were numerous enough for the party to launch an investigation, in which a panel heard testimony from interviewees. 

Those who spoke out were frustrated and "retraumatised" by the complaints process. In July they'd been told despite the investigation into the staffer, no action would be taken against him.

The Labour Party executive has been insisting there were no complaints of sexual assault but Newshub on Monday reported details of a complainant's testimony she claims was provided to the panel. In it, she describes struggling against the accused as he pulls down her pants and grabs her under her shirt.

How many people made allegations against the staffer?

Newshub has spoken to five of the seven people who made complaints about the Labour staffer.

If allegations of sexual assault were reported five weeks ago, why are they in the news again now?

Fresh news stories on Monday go into a level of detail of a sexual assault claim that was previously unreported.

Newshub reporting up until Monday night had been focused on the complaints as a whole, rather than individual incidents. On Monday, O'Brien reported an account from one of the complainants, who said the staffer assaulted her for 10 to 20 minutes. She recounted struggling against his weight, while he used one of his elbows to push against her collar bone. His other hand went into her trousers. 

"I just remember how sharp his nails were," she said.

At the Prime Minister's weekly post-Cabinet press conference, Jacinda Ardern said the first she'd heard of sexual assault claims against the staffer had been in the Spinoff that day. 

She said she'd been told the complaints were not sexual and on her Tuesday morning media rounds, did not express confidence in the party president Nigel Haworth, saying she would wait for an investigation into the process to wrap up. 

Who knew about the allegations?

Because the allegations had been investigated by a Labour party panel over the course of nearly three months, when the first news story broke, a handful of MPs already knew at least some of the details.

They included Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and two other Labour MPs.

The key contention is currently who knew about the allegations of sexual assault and when. The complainant who spoke to Newshub on Monday said the panel was told during the investigation. Haworth was part of that panel, but has been insisting there was no complaint of sexual assault.

How does the future look for the Labour Party president Nigel Haworth?

An investigation into the complaints process was launched off the back of Newshub's first story. If that investigation finds there was a complaint of sexual assault and that it wasn't investigated or reported properly, then it's hard to see a situation in which Haworth wouldn't offer his resignation.

Why did the complainants come forward to the party in the first place?

Those who laid complaints did so after the party encouraged victims to come forward following allegations of groping at a Young Labour camp.

They say they were concerned that young women joining the party could be harmed by the man at the centre of the allegations. They believed the party could deal with it and did not want to go to police.

After going to the party, why did they speak to media?

Alleged victims contacted Newshub after becoming frustrated with the party's processes. They had provided testimony to a panel of officials, including the party Secretary Nigel Haworth.

One of the women who allege a sexual assault says notes taken during the interview were poor and failed to detail the assault.

She says she read off a written testimony during the interview, and that the written testimony was provided to the panel. Newshub has seen the testimony and it details a sexual assault.

The party continues to insist there were no complaints of sexual assault.

What is Paula Bennett's involvement?

The deputy leader of the Opposition is an unusual ally for the alleged victims of the Labour Party staffer. At least one of the complainants went to Bennett, hoping it would help resolve the case.


  • August 2018: Labour Party president Nigel Haworth informed the staffer told a woman she was elected within the party because she "would be nice to sleep with".
  • 9 March, 2019: Complainants are interviewed by a panel
  • 21 May, 2019: Investigation wrapped up
  • June, 2019: Complainants told of the outcome
  • 5 July, 2019: Labour party president emailed complainants to say no action would be taken
  • 5 August, 2019: Newshub breaks the story of investigation into bullying and sexual assault allegations against staffer
  • August 8, 2019: National's Paula Bennett claims to have been contacted by a victim 
  • August 08, 2019: PM said she was advised none of the people who made a complaint to Labour about a party member currently work in any part of Parliament
  • August 10, 2019: Decision taken by Labour to appoint a QC 
  • September 09, 2019: Labour staffer details alleged sexual assault by senior staffer 
  • September 09, 2019: PM says she is "deeply disappointed" in the party's handling of allegations and wasn't aware they were sexual in nature
  • September 10, 2019: Labour president Nigel Haworth says sexual assault allegations were not brought to Labour Party investigation