Worth's accuser hoped to retain anonymity

An Indian woman who alleges former minister Richard Worth sexually harassed her is Labour party activist Neelam Choudary, it was revealed today.

Ms Choudary, an Aucklander, wrote to Prime Minister John Key today outlining her version of events, saying she hoped to retain her anonymity.

That proved wishful thinking - tonight her name was being carried on news websites and in television news reports.

Ms Choudary is an active Labour Party member, who unsuccessfully sought the party nomination for the Botany seat in Auckland.

Dr Worth, who last week resigned as a minister, is waiting for police to talk to him over a separate and more serious allegation.

Allegations of a sexual nature by a Korean businesswoman cost him his ministerial post.

Ms Choudary's complaint became public only after Dr Worth lost his job, though she has alleged that between November and February, Dr Worth sent her dozens of text messages, some sexually explicit, and called her numerous times.

Opposition leader Phil Goff has been trying to arrange a meeting between her and Mr Key, who has said he would only meet her if she presented the offending texts to his chief of staff.

After failing to organise a meeting with Mr Key, Ms Choudary, today decided to put her story to him anyway.

Labour leader Phil Goff said to "solve the impasse" the woman, whom he refused to name, had put her version of the sexual harassment in writing though she would have rather presented it face-to-face.

"The complainant is obviously under a great deal of stress at the moment...because this is something she never asked for," Mr Goff said.

Ms Choudary thought it was unfair that her credibility had been questioned and wanted her story understood without her privacy being invaded, he said.

Ms Choudary has not returned NZPA's calls.

She had given Mr Key her phone number so Dr Worth's phone records could be checked, Mr Goff said

"She wants him to take a serious look at what Richard Worth did and make up his own mind about whether he thinks her claims are believable or not."

Labour has released copies of the texts allegedly sent to Ms Choudary.

One asked her if she wanted to go swimming, while another told her she was the MP's "favourite" best new friend.

A third asked if she might be in India in January on a discreet trade mission.

Ms Choudary told TVNZ that she had asked Dr Worth to stop harassing her.

In a statement, which Mr Goff tabled in Parliament on her behalf, she said she received about 40 texts and 60 phonecalls from Dr Worth.

Mr Goff rang Mr Key on May 6 to tell him that a female party member had come to him after getting offensive calls and texts from Dr Worth.

Mr Key questioned Dr Worth over this at the time, but he strongly denied the claims.

Mr Key said he was still willing to meet with Ms Choudary now she had been identified.

Dr Worth is on leave, but due to return for next week's caucus meeting.

Mr Key has said Dr Worth should consider his future as an MP and suggested he could be expelled from caucus.

If Dr Worth wanted to take more time to consider his position then it was likely he would be granted it.

Dr Worth issued a statement last Thursday saying he was innocent of any crime, and would vigorously defend himself against any accusations he had broken the law.


- NZ Herald

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