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'Very unlikely' Ardern didn't know about alleged sexual assault by Labour Party staffer, Bridges says

National Party leader Simon Bridges is questioning whether Jacinda Ardern has been open about how much she knew about an alleged sexual assault by a Labour Party staff member.

Details of the alleged sexual assault were published on Monday by The Spinoff - said to have occurred in February of 2018, with the complainant claiming the person had significant influence and connections within the party.

The Prime Minister said she's waiting on an independent QC report to decide what to do, but has maintained that when she was first told about the allegations she specifically asked if they were sexual or physical and was told they were not.

However, Mr Bridges told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning: "I just don’t think the Prime Minister’s story on this rings particularly true. I think she did know that there were alleged sexual assaults and you know, it's time for some accountability on that."

When asked specifically if he thought Mr Ardern was a liar, Mr Bridges said it was possible, but "very unlikely" she didn't know the truth about the allegations.

Mr Bridges said standing back and looking at evidence, there were up to 12 complainants, adding that the process had been going on for many months and senior staff knew about "alleged sexual assaults".

"She's ducking and diving on that accountability," Mr Bridges said, adding that the Prime Minister was "hiding" behind a QC report - one that is expected to take four weeks to complete.

"I don’t see why we should be hiding behind a QC’s report and putting a lot of time and tens-of-thousands of taxpayer’s dollars into that when ultimately it seems to me that the facts, the timeline could be on the table and decisions could be made by her [Ms Ardern].”

"We shouldn't have to wait weeks for, in a sense, justice for the victims," Mr Bridges said.

When asked if he thinks the party’s president Nigel Haworth should resign over Labour's handling of the serious allegations, Mr Bridges said: "I think it sounds like he’s all but gone".

But added: "Ultimately this is Jacinda Ardern’s employee [the alleged offender], it’s not Nigel Haworth’s, and she's ducking and diving on that accountability."

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The National Party leader gave this thoughts on Labour’s handling of the issue. Source: Breakfast


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