Ardern on assault: 'Monday the first time I saw details'

Jacinda Ardern speaking to reporters this morning. Photo: RNZ
Jacinda Ardern speaking to reporters this morning. Photo: RNZ

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has held a last minute press conference at Parliament this morning as the pressure mounts over Labour Party sexual assault allegations.

Ms Ardern is still facing questions about the handling of the allegations against a party staffer based at Parliament, after yesterday's sudden resignation of the party President Nigel Haworth.

This morning she reiterated that Monday was the first time she had seen evidence a complaint of a serious sexual assault had been taken to the party.

Yesterday she saw emails that confirmed in her mind that harm had been caused to the complainants through the process, she said.

"Monday was the first time that I saw details that a complainant had stated that they'd been sexually assaulted and that they'd taken a complaint to the Labour Party. That was the first time,'' she said.

Five weeks ago when media first reported sexual assault allegations, Ms Ardern said she sought assurances from the Labour Party.

She said she was told by the party that "no complainant had come to them and claimed to them they'd been sexually assaulted''.

But on Monday there was a counter-claim when a 19-year-old Labour volunteer staffer outlined sexual assault allegations to the Spinoff, which Ms Ardern said she was now acting on.

Ms Ardern said her offer to meet with the complainants stands, and her office had extended that invitation through third-parties.

She said it was not a time-limited offer.

Labour Party president Nigel Haworth stepped down yesterday after a conversation with Ms Ardern.

"I've come to the conclusion that regardless of the outcome of the appeal process into complaints about a Party member, fresh leadership will be required to take forward any recommendations from that process," he said in a statement.

Complainants issued a statement that said the resignation of Mr Haworth was a step "towards acknowledging that Labour has failed these survivors", but there was still much more work to do.