One of the members of the Labour Party’s investigation panel has disputed claims he was aware of a sexual assault allegation during the inquiry into a Labour staffer, saying at no time did the complainant make any reference to a sexual assault allegation.
Earlier this year, Labour began investigating after complaints were made against the staffer. An investigation panel was set up by Labour's highest governing body, the NZ Council, which included Simon Mitchell. Three months later, the staffer was cleared.
Last week a woman claimed she raised a sexual assault allegation with the investigation. On Thursday, the staffer at the centre of the allegations announced his resignation. In a statement sent to media, the staffer said: "I adamantly refute the serious allegations made against me."
In a statement sent by his lawyer, Simon Mitchell wrote that when he met with the complainant on March 9 she read her concerns from a document, but did not provide the panel with a copy of that document. Earlier that morning, he said the complainant sent a document to Assistant General Secretary Dianna Lacy to print out. Mr Mitchell said he was given a copy of this document last week but it did not contain any details of sexual assault allegations.
“At no point did she say that she had been sexually assaulted or tell us about the events that are described in the Spinoff article.”
In May, Mr Mitchell said he met with the complainant to clarify the allegations. “At no time during that meeting did she say that she had been sexually assaulted by the subject of the complaint or disclose the events that are subject of the Spinoff article”.
Mr Mitchell said that in June, the complainant emailed him with three attachments, “including what she refers to as her testimony”. He said none of the attachments contained any reference to a sexual assault allegation.
He said on June 17, after the decision was made to recommend no disciplinary action be taken against the staffer, “the complainant emailed me and other members of the panel thanking us for our hard work”.
Mr Mitchell said he has had his computer system “forensically” examined and that there is “no evidence” of any attachments being sent to him on March 9.
Labour Party President Nigel Haworth stepped down on Wednesday over the investigation process.
A Queen's Counsel (QC) is now completing a report on the matter.