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Labour Party youth camp accused allowed to keep his name secret until any trial ends

The man charged with indecently assaulting people at a Labour Party youth camp has been allowed to keep his name secret until the end of any trial.

Police did not oppose continued name suppression at a hearing this afternoon in the Auckland District Court.

His lawyer, Emma Priest, told Judge Russell Collins she was not seeking permanent suppression at this stage, but left open the possibility of applying for it in future.

Judge Collins said Ms Priest had put forward a considerable amount of material to support the application.

He said the application argued that making the man’s name public would cause extreme hardship to him and members of his family, and create a risk of not having a fair trial.

“I am satisfied and have been satisfied quite quickly there would be prejudice to a fair trial, Judge Collins said.

“This matter has been the subject of an extremely high level of media coverage – I’m not sure what was exactly the originating point of that coverage but it was certainly at a time when charges weren’t before the court,” he said.

“Many people have commented publicly in which the only inference is that the defendant is guilty. Fair trial rights are paramount.”

Judge Collins continued the man’s suppression “until verdict or other determination of the charges”.

The Auckland man first appeared in court in July facing six charges of indecent assault involving four teenaged complainants.

Police say all six alleged offences happened in Waihi on February 10 and 11 this year.

The 20-year-old denies all the charges.

The Police investigation was launched in March after allegations were made of inappropriate behaviour at the camp event.

Today’s court appearance comes days after recommendations were made public from an internal report into how Labour handled the claims.

The report, overseen by Maria Austen, suggested several changes to policies and procedures.

Among them was an overhaul of the complaints process and a “new, over-arching alcohol policy”.

Labour declined to release the full report and declined an interview request from 1 News when the recommendations were released.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned her own party's handling of the situation after the media learned of the allegations in March.

The accused man asked for a trial by jury an earlier appearance.

Justice Source: 1 NEWS