PM Jacinda Ardern 'deeply disappointed' in Labour's handling of allegations

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says she is "deeply disappointed" in the party's handling of allegations made by a volunteer against a senior staffer. 

The Prime Minister said on Monday the accused has not been on the Parliament precinct since the day after the allegations arose, so for "roughly five weeks now". 

She said the accused will not be on the precinct "at least for the duration of the inquiry", and the investigation will be undertaken by a QC appointed by the Labour Party. 

Newshub's Tova O'Brien broke the story in early August

"I want to make it very clear that I am deeply concerned, and incredibly frustrated, by the process that has been undertaken by the Labour Party, but also by the nature of the allegations," Ardern said at post-Cabinet. 

"I was informed in the very beginning that the allegations made were not sexual in nature. That is obviously not directly counter to what is being reported."

The Labour Party staffer is alleged to have committed a serious and sustained sexual assault on a 19-year-old volunteer early in 2018. The volunteer told The Spinoff his level of influence left her constantly frightened. 

Ardern said she visited the New Zealand Council - the Labour Party's governing body - last month, and "very seriously" shared her view that they were not the appropriate place to undertake an investigation into a sexual assault. 

"As of the 10th of August, from that meeting, decisions were taken to appoint a QC, and that is now where this process sits. I'm incredibly frustrated and deeply disappointed by the way that this has been handled."

Paula Bennett, deputy leader of the National Party, is calling on Ardern to stand-down the accused staff member while the matter is reviewed. 

"Any other workplace would take this sensible step to ensure the safety of its entire staff," Bennett said. 

"The victims in this sorry saga have lost faith and trust in an organisation that they believed would look after them."