He may have resigned but Richard Worth is not the only victim in this debacle. When you play in the muck you will get dirt on you. It's a lesson Phil Goff forgot last week and it must take the gloss off the Mt Albert by-election result.

When John Key rightly demanded Worth's resignation as a minister after the police began investigating sex charges against him in relation to his involvement with an unnamed Korean woman, Goff couldn't resist putting the boot in.

It is obvious that Goff's office first leaked the rumour to the Press Gallery that Labour had already warned Key of allegations of sexual harassment by Worth of another woman, who we now know is Neelam Choudary.

Leaving the Korean woman's allegations to one side, it is also now apparent that the Choudary affair was largely a Labour set-up.

All Key was first presented with was allegations Worth had made inappropriate advances via texts, phone calls and a coffee meeting to an unnamed woman, but there was no hard evidence to back it up.

Not surprisingly, Worth denied all and, in the absence of proof, Key's inquiries came to nothing.

When the proverbial hit the fan over the Korean woman, Labour dropped the whisper of the Choudary allegations and Key was forced completely on to the back foot and publicly embarrassed. Labour strategists would have been chortling.

Finally, however, thanks to the efforts of some bloggers and journalists in the gallery, more ugly facts emerged. Goff had sought to keep her name secret. For good reason. It soon became apparent Choudary was not just an ordinary low-level member of the Labour Party, she had tried to become a Labour MP last year.

By offering herself to the bear pit of Parliament she plainly demonstrated she was no shrinking violet incapable of fending off the blandishments of an aged Government minister.

From the beginning, when she first received approaches from Worth, she had kept Goff in the loop. The Labour leader even endorsed the idea she should meet Worth.

We also found out that Choudary had been active on the ground in David Shearer's by-election campaign in Mt Albert. Hence the inevitable conclusion Worth and the Government were clearly being set up by the Labour Party.

Last week there were debates in several newsrooms about publishing the fact that Choudary was married to a convicted fraudster.

However, it was entirely proper to put this information before the public as it concerned the issue of her credibility. Witnesses emerged to say that she, too, had been involved in the immigration "business" that saw her husband convicted of a scam. One victim of the rip-off told TV3 he had been offered $15,000 to keep silent about the Choudarys.

I now find it impossible to give her and Goff's allegations any credibility. She has insisted Key keep secret the content of the texts that Worth supposedly sent her, so she has made it impossible for the public to verify her claims. Certainly on the basis of the few innocuous texts released so far there is no evidence of any sexual propositions or harassment.

From what we've seen so far in the Choudary affair, Worth is guilty, at worst, of being a silly old fool.

No one has come out of this business with their reputation enhanced by what now must be seen as a Labour Party dirty trick.

Goff has ducked for cover, after a couple of weeks of drip-feeding juicy tidbits to the media and taking the moral high ground. That can only be seen as an admission he was wrong.

More concerning were the original allegations, now buried in arguments over the sleazier aspects of the affair, that Worth freely bandied about Government appointments.

If true, there needs to be greater scrutiny and stricter protocols about appointments to Government boards, and Parliament needs to tighten up the rules.

There is a lesson here for National. It has been let off the hook because of the digging by bloggers and the mainstream media. It was lucky this time. The Government behaved like babes in the wood over this business and paid a big price for its naivety and lack of political nous.

The inner cabinet of Key, Bill English, Simon Power, Steven Joyce, Murray McCully and Tony Ryall drive the direction of Government policy. Those guys also need to exercise their collective brain over more nakedly political strategic issues, like how to avoid Labour's inevitable ankle-taps and the blunderings of some of the weaker members of their caucus.

I know they are busy draining the swamp but they also need to keep a sharp eye out for those pesky alligators and determine well in advance how to keep their political butts covered.