Leaked draft investigation shows Labour did not properly communicate with complainants

Newshub can reveal the Labour Party utterly failed complainants with its handling of bullying, harassment and sexual assault allegations.

A leaked draft investigation shows Labour did not properly communicate with the complainants and, in fact, disproportionately communicated more regularly and thoroughly with the person the complaints were about.

The allegations of sexual assault, harassment and bullying shook the Labour Party in 2019, and for the complainants it was hell. The party's investigation into their claims against a Labour staffer was botched from the start.

"We felt like he was given the benefit of the doubt right from the start," one complainant told Newshub at the time.

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

One complainant said the person the complaints were about received the testimonies before they did.

Their concerns about the process have been vindicated by a major external review into how Labour handled the allegations.

Newshub has been leaked the draft report which found Labour failed to keep the complainants informed or give them an opportunity to review the accuracy of notes from their interviews. The report also found Labour failed to respond to evidence from the staffer, arguing that's inconsistent with the rules of natural justice.

Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern is in Waitangi.

When Newshub asked her about the Labour's handling of the investigation, she said: "We need to assure ourselves that we've done everything as well as we could have. We were not satisfied that we had, which is why we said we're going to look at what we did as an organisation."

The report leaked to Newshub is that look at what Labour did as an organisation.

Newshub asked the Prime Minister if she thinks the Labour Party's processes are now fixed.

"We are an organisation run by volunteers, so as long as we have humans involved, we will make mistakes from time to time, but what will set us apart is our willingness to learn from those mistakes."

The sexual assault allegations made against the staffer were not upheld, but a QC report late last year found he was aggressive and overbearing.

This new report says he could have been excluded from party events and facilities earlier to ensure the complainants' safety, including protection from retaliation or victimisation.

"It felt pretty awful. It was just like they were trying to protect him," one complainant told Newshub in August 2019.

Although Labour failed to communicate with the complainants throughout the investigation, it gave the staffer "significant detail", according to the report. It found Labour regularly communicated with him throughout the investigation process.

Ardern said she has always wanted to allow the third party investigation into the process followed to "have that really objective view at what happened there, and I want to make sure I have the chance to go through that".

This is the third investigation into the complaints about the Labour Party staffer.

The first began when Labour received a number of complaints about the staffer. That review was conducted by party members.

That concluded with a finding no misconduct had occurred.

Later, a review of the process was instigated. In August, another review was kicked off: the Maria Dew report into the allegations themselves. The process review was put on hold.

The review leaked to Newshub - the external review - was carried out from November 2019.

Analysis from Political Editor Tova O'Brien

Six months after Newshub revealed the allegations, the debacle is still plaguing Labour and Jacinda Ardern, all the way to Waitangi.

It's important to point out this is just a draft report. We understand a final report is going to Labour next week and changes could be made.

The report is really bad for the party in terms of how it handles serious allegations; remember the party president Nigel Haworth who oversaw it all was forced to resign last year. 

It's worth noting there are a couple of things the report says Labour got right: delays complainants experienced were reasonable and the party met its obligations to support the complainants.