Hughes drama: Annette King opens up

By David Fisher

Annette King. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Annette King. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Labour's deputy leader Annette King has confirmed she was under the same roof as former MP Darren Hughes at the time of the incident that prompted a police investigation.

Labour chief of staff Gordon Jon Thompson said yesterday King slept
through whatever took place between Hughes and an 18-year-old university student he had taken home.

It is the first time there has been any explanation of King's role in the drama, which cost one of the country's most promising MPs his political future.

Hughes resigned after a complaint of a sexual nature was made to police
by the student, who went home with him after a night out drinking.

The teenager was later seen naked at the side of the road nearby.

Police announced this week there was not enough evidence to lay
charges.

When Hughes said he had been "falsely" accused, Detective Inspector Mike Johnson said he had "no concerns regarding the validity of
the complaint".

King owned the house where Hughes lived. Her presence has remained a
mystery until today.

Thompson said: "She was in the house. It is a big house. She was unaware of this."

On Friday King had refused to discuss the incident.

"I've not commented on it. I'm not going to comment on it and that's the end of the matter. I've discussed it with no one and I've got no comment to make."

She then hung up.

King's absence from the debate had been striking - particularly
last week with leader Phil Goff out of the country.

Labour sidestepped King and David Cunliffe to make Trevor Mallard
their spokemsan.

Hughes has also refused to discuss the incident. Broadcaster Paul Henry signalled this week that he hoped to have the first interview with the man he describes as his second-best friend.

"We've had conversations about it. It is for him to decide."

News Hughes was not going to be prosecuted was greeted with relief
among Labour MPs.

They had been facing the prospect of going into an election under the
cloud of an embarrassing court case.

Hughes signalled his intention to return to politics - and found
support from one of his greatest supporters, former Prime Minister
Helen Clark.

Now head of the United Nations Development Programme, she wrote on
his Facebook page on Thursday: "All the best for the future Darren in
whatever field you choose."

Political scientist Bryce Edwards said Labour had failed to answer questions and still owed the public - and particularly its members.

He said Labour had dodged questions for months, citing the police
investigation.

Now that it was over it should front up, he said.

"Annette King is still Deputy Leader of the Opposition. This is still an
interest of public interest."

- NZ Herald

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