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Bennett on Labour’s Sex Scandal

20/08/2019

Given all the comment to date here is Paula Bennett’s Facebook post on this issue

Funnily this did not make the MSM, why am I not surprised

Paula Bennett on those issues re Labour’s Sex Problem

I was recently contacted by someone who called themselves a victim. They talked of a Labour Party staffer who works in Jacinda Ardern’s office. The accused is senior to most of his victims, and the allegations being made are serious. The person who contacted me repeatedly named him. They said his behaviour had taken place both within and outside of Parliament. They asked for anonymity and said they came to me because they believed there were vulnerable young people still at risk. They said they, and others, believed that coming to me may be the only way they can be heard. It is their hope that there will be action and in future the Labour Party can be a safe space for people in the party and people who work at Parliament.

What they’re alleging is serious. One victim was admitted to hospital because of the stress this has caused them.

Yesterday the victims were told there would be an appeal process after the way the Labour Party originally handled their complaints. The President of the party called and said it would be run by a QC. They feel it’s just more of the same, a policy and process conjured up on the hoof without any consideration given to how an appeal process should be run. It’s not victim-led. Ultimately any decision making will rest in the hands of the Labour Party Council who the victims believe is not best qualified to make decisions like this because of the inherent political influence that the accused is able to wield.

They say the Labour Party completely ignored them when they asked a process to be developed with a third party sexual abuse prevention agency. For time to be taken to get the process right. They’ve just made up this process as they did with the previous one.

The victims say they’re fearful of the accused and his power and that it permeates from the Labour Party Head Office to staffers in the Prime Minister’s Office. They say there are other influencers who have made threats. They said 12 people over the course of previous years have come forward with complaints and later told me that at least two that they knew of had reported complaints to someone senior in the Prime Minister’s office, they named that person.

They say the Party and Jacinda Ardern’s office is trying to distance themselves from it as much as possible by stressing its ‘independence.’

I have now had three people come to me, asking that I continue going public with their concerns as they don’t feel they can. They are scared for themselves and others. They don’t feel that they have been listened to.

After confirming their identity to me, we discussed their options. I believe in a victim-led response, they felt powerless and the last thing they needed was me dictating what would happen. I suggested they go to the Police, or Parliament’s Speaker, along with other options. They asked me to go to the Speaker and to go public. They hoped people would see how serious they were that they had to speak to me, a National MP, to be heard.

I knew I would get criticised for going public with what they had told me, but I also knew I had to leave my politics and concerns for how I would be judged to one side. I believed them, I heard the fear in their voice. They also told me about a number of other serious effects this was having on them and others such as anxiety, panic attacks, vomiting and time off work. They talked of having no real hope and feeling powerless.

My role gives me a platform to speak from. I believe them and I feel I have to do what I believe is right. Too many victims suffer because they are threatened and silenced. The shocking and deplorable becomes their norm and they start to blame themselves. These people are courageous and brave and they deserve a voice.

Since my initial contact I have seen emails where senior people in the Labour Party have responded to the victims by limiting access within Parliament of both the victims and the alleged perpetrator. I have seen an email where victims were told “you may not go to xxx office in Parliamentary buildings (I have changed the language slightly so as not to identify anyone)”. As one of the victims said “telling people to avoid parliament because of a predator, is very scary.”

I have also been told that while the original investigation was happening the alleged perpetrator was put in charge of hosting an event at Parliament where senior MPs and officials knew at least three of the complainants would be present.

The victims have been very clear with me that the Prime Minister’s office knew and that two complaints were made to the head of her Leader’s Office. Despite this, they say a complaint was never received and victims will have to come forward again.

I have been told repeatedly that the Labour Party allowed the accused’s behaviour, that he is too valuable to lose, and that he is close to senior and important people. I asked them what they want. They want a proper respectful process. They want his membership suspended immediately and for him to be stood down so people don’t have to be frightened of bumping into him and they want to keep him away from other vulnerable young people.

Now that an appeal is underway the victims have been told they can’t speak to anyone in the Labour Party, that includes the people who have formed their only support system. It’s yet another form of isolation that will have a huge impact on already vulnerable people. They don’t feel safe at work, they’re constantly on edge.

It’s not my job to judge, I fully accept that I don’t know all the details and have only heard one side and that these are allegations – I have purposefully not outlined them or named or identified anyone. But I will speak up, and yes use different public platforms to do so. I would tell the Labour Party what I have been told, but to be fair they already know what I know and from what I can see have chosen not to act. I hope that changes

I am not a great Bennett fan, but she has stated her position. I would rather this was in the MSM, but given their recent behaviour I have some sympathy for her approach.

I make no comment at this time.

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