Labour Party lead investigator insists he wasn't told about sexual assault allegations

Lawyers acting for the chair of the Labour investigating panel say allegations by a complainant - that he had seen statements they made about sexual assault are "untrue" and "not credible".

The Prime Minister is refusing to be drawn on who she believes but says she takes a victim-centric approach and has set in motion a series of inquiries and actions to try preventing it from happening again.

"There are no excuses for the handling of the complaints by the Labour Party and I will offer none," Jacinda Ardern said at her post-Cabinet press conference.

She said the Labour Party has "not dealt with these complaints adequately or appropriately".

But the chair of the panel which investigated the Labour Party staffer, lawyer Simon Mitchell, has lawyered up and is digging in.

He has called the complainants' statements that he was made aware of sexual assault allegations "untrue" and "not credible".

The Prime Minister said continuing to contest the allegations in the public domain "serves no one - not least the complainants".

Newshub obtained an email to Mitchell from a complainant which reads, "I want to be able to read off of a timeline testimony I've created. Would someone be able to print this?".

It shows two attachments: a testimony and one called to print the sexual assault experience.

But Mitchell has hired a forensic computer expert to investigate. He won't release the findings but says: "The email did not have an attachment", and that there's no evidence of any attachment.

He said during the complainant's interview, "at no point did she say that she had been sexually assaulted".

National's deputy leader Paula Bennett said she finds it "extraordinary" that Ardern "accepts that one of her council members can go and do that while she's outlining, supposedly, a respectful process".

Bennett added, "I just think it's dreadful that they have to go through this publicly yet again, and it's from the Labour Party."

Ardern said her "general value set and philosophy" is to "take a victim-centred approach".

She says the steps she's outlined make that clear.

  • The QC inquiry will focus on substance not party process
  • The Labour internal review will be handed to an independent reviewer focus on process
  • Ardern has appointed a victims' advocate to look at findings and "ensure does not happen again"
  • The Prime Minister to meet with complainants
  • One of Ardern's MPs will work with experts to bring about a culture change

"This will be a catalyst for change," the Prime Minister said.

But complainants are worried a witch hunt is underway to work out and spread their names. One told Newshub it creates a chilling effect and "goes to the heart of the fact the Labour Party fundamentally doesn't believe us".

The Prime Minister said she can give the victims an assurance that no one in her office or the Labour Party is spreading their names around.

The complainants plan to release a statement Monday night.