Labour Party sexual assault investigation: Complainants distressed claims not upheld

Some of the complainants who accused a Labour Party staffer of sexual assault, harassment and bullying say they are distressed their allegations have not been upheld.

The independent QC report into allegations of sexual assault, harassment and bullying could not establish those claims but found the staffer was aggressive and overbearing.

Complainants have told Newshub how distressing the report is and say they asked for more time before the investigation findings were released on Wednesday.

Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern commissioned an independent review by QC Maria Dew after the Labour Party botched the initial internal investigation. 

The report found the allegation of sexual assault in February 2018 against a party staffer is not established; there is insufficient evidence; and the complainant's evidence was incorrect in several critical respects.

The report also found while the staffer's other actions didn't amount to unlawful bullying, the staffer had accepted his conduct was at times overbearing and aggressive, and that he had made three comments of a sexual nature. 

But he denied the more serious allegations.

"We are not here to seek blame or seek malice," Ardern said on Wednesday. "We are here to try and restore a process that should have been in place in the first place."

Labour Party president Claire Szabo said she "would like to acknowledge the discomfort and distress that these matters have caused a number of our people".

The complainant that had alleged sexual assault had been in a consensual relationship with the staffer in the eight months prior to when the incident was alleged to have happened. 

The report says the complainant at the centre of the sexual assault claims will be distressed that the allegation was not established.

Dew notes in the report that that complainant says her personal relationship with the staffer was damaging to her, and there is evidence she reported the allegation to her close friends within a month.

One complainant told Newshub the report has caused significant distress to some of the complainants and that's been communicated to the party.

They're worried significantly for the welfare of some of the complainants and had to call a mental health crisis assess team for one complainant, while another had been treated in hospital.

Newshub informed the Prime Minister that complainants are distressed that the investigation's findings have been released.

She replied: "None of this should have been dealt with in this way."