Key again refuses to explain why Worth was sacked

The mystery of why Richard Worth was effectively sacked as a minister continued in Parliament yesterday.

On Monday Prime Minister John Key refused to tell journalists why Dr Worth was forced to fall on his sword and yesterday he refused to tell MPs.

Mr Key made it clear to reporters at Monday's post-Cabinet press conference that he has said all he intends to say about Dr Worth's resignation as Minister of Internal Affairs and subsequent decision to quit Parliament.

Mr Key reprised his performance in the House yesterday when Labour MP Pete Hodgson quizzed him.

"I have no intention of going into the specifics, but I can say that Dr Worth did not meet the standards I set for my ministers, and therefore when I lost confidence in him I sought his resignation," Mr Key said.

Asked if he told ministers and National MPs why their colleague had been sacked, Mr Key said he had broadly outlined the reasons, but not the details.

Mr Hodgson appealed to Speaker Lockwood Smith to force Mr Key to answer his questions as the replies were in the public interest.

But Dr Smith said only ministers were in a position to make that judgment.

Dr Worth resigned his ministerial portfolios on June 3, after Mr Key left him no choice by telling him he no longer had confidence in him.

On Friday, Dr Worth announced he had resigned from Parliament.

He was under a cloud because of scandals involving an Indian woman who said he harassed her, and a Korean woman who has laid a complaint of a sexual nature with the police.

But no evidence has been produced and Dr Worth has said he is innocent of any breach of the law.

Mr Key initially said he could not say anything because he did not want to contaminate the inquiry the police have started into the Korean woman's complaint, but on Monday he appeared to contradict that, saying his reason for losing confidence in Dr Worth was "nothing of a legal nature".

Under parliamentary rules, Mr Key does not have to give any reason for dismissing a minister other than loss of confidence.

- NZPA

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