A Labour Party staffer was still working in Parliament yesterday despite being charged with stealing wine from the Press Gallery's Christmas party.
Aidan Smith was arrested after allegedly being caught taking the wine to a car outside Wednesday night's party, which was attended by Prime Minister John Key and a collection of other ministers and senior MPs.
A group of up to four people, also believed to be Labour staffers, were seen acting suspiciously as they came in and out of the party, which was held in Parliament's Doidge room and spilled into the area outside.
Press Gallery chair Vernon Small of the Dominion-Post and deputy chair Jane Patterson say they tracked Smith to the carpark.
It is believed that the group of four were taking full bottles of wine from the bar then smuggling them individually out the gate and up to the car.
A partygoer claims to have seen one making fake phone calls as an excuse to go in and out of the party.
Smith was still working as Labour MP Pete Hodgson's assistant yesterday. He is due to leave that role soon to work for the party's finance spokesman, David Cunliffe. He has previously worked in the party's research unit.
Smith said police had charged him with theft and he would be appearing in court on Monday.
A spokesman for Parliamentary Services, Smith's employer, would not comment because it was an employment matter. The other individuals involved have not been identified, but up to three cameras were trained on the area and security staff have been reviewing the footage.
Labour leader Phil Goff said it was a serious matter and totally unacceptable. He confirmed some of those involved worked for the party.
"The matter will be dealt with through the normal channels of the justice system and Parliamentary Services. I deeply regret that the action was taken."By Patrick Gower Email Patrick