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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is steadfast in her stance that Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton will keep his job.
She made public comments this morning following the fallout of sexual assault allegations regarding incidents at a Labour youth summer camp event last month.
Ardern appeared on The Nation this morning and hit back at host Lisa Owen's suggestions Kirton should lose his job. She said the primary focus should be on the young people - one who laid an official police complaint earlier this week- and waiting for the results of an official inquiry.
Wellington lawyer Maria Berryman has been appointed to look into the allegations that a drunk 20-year-old assaulted four male and female teenagers during the Waihi event and the subsequent actions taken by officials.
Kirton has defended the way Labour has handled the allegations of sexual misconduct at party functions and says he will not resign. The party has been heavily criticised for failing to tell the parents of the teenagers of the incident, not telling the police, or the Prime Minister.
Questions surround the availability of alcohol at the camp, the knowledge of an MP who attended the camp, Liz Craig, and what support the young people received amid claims nothing was put in place until the story was about to break in the media.
Craig has previously said she had gone to bed early on the night of the alleged incidents, while MP Megan Woods has confirmed she was one of the first senior members of the party to have knowledge of the events, after one of the complainants detailed the allegations to her in a Facebook message.
She in turn informed Kirton.
Speaking to Owen, Ardern this morning reaffirmed her position that she doesn't place blame on officials who attended the event.
"Do I place blame with one person in attendance? No I don't. We as a whole have to accept responsibility for this," she said.
"Mistakes have been made. Andrew accepts mistakes have been made. Sacking isn't the only way someone is made accountable. There's a public accountability here."
Ardern was also firm in her position that members of the party failed to tell her of the allegations in order to give her "plausible deniability" if she was asked about it.
"Absolutely not," Ardern replied. "I push back on that suggestion very hard. That's not fair and that's not correct."
Ardern was informed about the claims by a journalist.
She said the most important thing would have been supporting the young people rather than any "political management".
Assistant Commissioner (Investigations) Richard Chambers this week encouraged anybody with information to come forward to police to assist with their investigation.
"We continue to encourage anyone with information they wish to discuss with police, or matters they wish to report, to contact us," he said on Wednesday.
"Our priority is to ensure that anyone who wishes to speak with us can feel comfortable in doing so, and to ensure that appropriate support services are available.
"We will not be publicly confirming any matters regarding those who may approach police, or complaints that may be received, to ensure that individuals can feel confident in speaking to us."
Timeline of events
• February 9: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks at the opening of Young Labour's "Summer School" camp in Waihi.
• February 10: A 20-year-old man allegedly sexually harasses or assaults four 16-year-olds - two males and two females - during a camp event.
• February 11: The man is thrown out and the victims offered support. Shortly after Labour's general secretary Andrew Kirton is informed.
• March 3: Follow-up offer of professional help offered to victims, according to Kirton.
• March 4: Energy Minister Megan Woods receives complaint about lack of response by Young Labour and contacts Kirton, who says the matter is being dealt with "appropriately". Woods does not raise with Ardern or anyone else.
• March 12: Allegations published and Ardern is blindsided by media questions. The party issues a statement saying it is "extremely disappointed" about the incident and launches a review.
• March 13: Ardern accepts the party was too slow to offer support but says she won't sack Kirton, who later reveals he's been told of a second incident at another camp years earlier.
• March 14: Kirton says one of the teens has made a complaint to police. Police then confirmed they are investigating.