Key defers meeting with second complainant

By Audrey Young

Politics and protocol have intervened to prevent a meeting between Prime Minister John Key and an Indian woman who claims she was subjected to vulgar phone calls and text messages from MP Richard Worth.

The woman said the messages stopped in February, but proof of their existence could have some bearing on whether Mr Key seeks to remove Dr Worth from the National caucus.

That is because Dr Worth assured Mr Key's chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, last month that the claims were untrue and he would sue if they were made public.

Mr Key said on Radio New Zealand yesterday that he would meet the woman. He now says he will not meet her until she has shown Mr Eagleson the texts and phone logs.

"It was [Labour leader] Phil Goff yesterday who was saying I should have asked for the text messages. Well, I am asking for them," Mr Key said in Auckland.

There was nothing wrong with getting Mr Eagleson to first verify the messages before progressing to a meeting with him.

"I'm not Judge Judy. I trust my chief of staff to the core. She simply needs to provide those text messages. I understand she has got them. He can read them and relay them to me and I will go and see her."

But Mr Goff said that condition amounted to Mr Key reneging on his offer on radio to meet the woman.

He said the woman sought his advice yesterday on whether she should meet Mr Eagleson and his advice was that she should meet directly with Mr Key.

"I said she should ask that she has the opportunity to talk directly to Mr Key - that's what she wanted to do and she asked me to confirm that is what she should respond and I said yes."

Mr Goff said he had wanted to be in the meeting too as a support person for the woman, who was a Labour activist, but that was not acceptable to Mr Key.

Mr Key said she could take whomever she wanted to her meeting with Mr Eagleson.

Mr Goff referred the matter to Mr Key privately last month and the issue emerged in Parliament this week after Dr Worth resigned as a minister following a complaint of a sexual nature to police from a different woman.

Mr Goff said yesterday that the woman was strikingly beautiful. He said she first approached him on November 26 to seek his advice because she was a Labour Party member and Dr Worth had offered her a job as an ethnic affairs adviser. The concern she had with the nature of the contact developed as the messages continued.

The woman did not return calls yesterday.

- NZ Herald

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