Brian Edwards Media

Darren Hughes – Sometimes you just know you got it right.

Webb

The Darren Hughes case in a nutshell:

An 18-year-old male student lays a complaint of a sexual nature with police against a prominent Member of Parliament who has what is generally agreed to be a glittering career ahead of him. 

Speculation as to what may have happened dominates the media for weeks to come. It includes talk of a naked man fleeing from Hughes’ lodgings in the early hours of the morning.

Hughes eventually resigns from Parliament on the grounds that this speculation and the widespread publicity make it impossible for him to effectively do his job as an MP and a Labour Party spokesman.

He repeatedly denies having done anything wrong.

The police take three-and-a-half months to reach a decision on whether or not to lay charges against Hughes.

They finally decide that: ‘After this careful consideration, the allegations do not reach the evidential threshold required to bring charges. As a result, no charges will be brought against Mr Hughes.’

Well, that’s all right then. Or is it?  

Is it all right that, after only a matter of weeks, it had become evident that the likely length of the police investigation made it virtually impossible for Hughes to return to Parliament in November?

Is it all right that that investigation eventually took three-and-a-half months to resolve what had happened between these two men and who was telling the truth?

Is it all right that the Leader of the Opposition did not stand Hughes  down from all his parliamentary and electorate duties and give him leave of absence as soon as he heard of the complaint and until the police investigation was over?

Is it all right that an 18-year-old student has been able to potentially destroy the promising career of a brilliant politician and to do so anonymously?

Is it all right that the tabloid press thought fit to engage in a frenzy of rumour-driven speculation about an incident they actually knew nothing about?

Is it all right that there was a public presumption of Hughes’ guilt without any knowledge of the true facts?

Is any of this all right? I don’t think so. 

But I also doubt that the police decision not to charge Hughes will satisfy those who prefer to believe there is no smoke without fire. That is how they will interpret the police’s neatly phrased statement that ‘the allegations do not reach the evidential threshold required to bring charges’. Let me put it more simply: the 18-year-old’s complaint simply didn’t stand up to scrutiny. That should be the end of the matter.

I wrote three posts on the Darren Hughes affair. The first was on March 24 and dealt with the Herald’s coverage of the known events, of the complaint and the police response. I concluded:

And finally, amid all the talk, including from his Leader, about Hughes’ career having been irreparably damaged, aren’t we forgetting the principle that, like every other person under investigation by the police, Hughes is innocent until and if he is arrested, charged, tried and found guilty of a crime.

On the following day, the day that Hughes resigned, I wrote a second post: A Hypothesis: Let’s assume for the moment that Darren Hughes is telling the truth. I concluded that post as follows:

So let’s just say that the police find that the 18-year-old’s complaint was without substance and there are no grounds to prosecute Darren Hughes. The accumulated wisdom of the New Zealand political commentariat  is that, nine months away from a general election, Phil Goff cannot afford to keep Darren Hughes in the party because, I suppose, ‘mud sticks’.

Maybe I have an unrealistic view of the average Kiwi, but if this scenario did eventuate, I rather think that welcoming Hughes back into the fold, and at the very most demoting him for his ‘lack of judgement’,  would do Labour no end of good. The party has too little young blood to spill.

In the meantime there is an onus on the police to deal with this matter quickly, in days, not weeks or months. As the old saying goes, ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ – whoever wins.

 Well, it turned out to be months. Which led me to write my most recent post on the affair on May 17: Why are the police dragging their heels in the Darren Hughes case? I concluded:

In the meantime, a cloud of suspicion hangs over both Hughes and the complainant. Those who think well of Hughes or support him politically may  be attracted to the view that he is the victim of ‘morning-after’ regret by the 18-year-old or of some dastardly plot by Right Wing operatives to ruin his career. Hughes’ political enemies, along with those uncomfortable with homosexuality, may  be attracted to the view that there is no smoke without fire and the ‘fact’ of an18-year-old ‘fleeing’ Hughes’ lodgings naked and seeking help from the police, is about as much evidence as they need.  

Both men’s lives are on hold and it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that our boys in blue, who are absolutely brilliant at tracking down rapists and  killers are, in this case, and for whatever reason, dragging their heels.

That, thankfully, is no longer the case, and if the decision not to charge Hughes is the result of ‘this careful consideration’ then perhaps the wait was worth it.

Blogging is a curious occupation. It allows people to publish their views on a huge variety of topics in many of which they have no expertise whatsoever. Much of what bloggers write is rubbish and often intemperate rubbish. I doubt I am an exception to that.

But occasionally you know that your stance is right and that you can look back on what you wrote with a degree of satisfaction, even of pride. This has been one such occasion.  

And finally this: Darren Hughes has paid dearly for his ‘lack of judgement’. He should not go on paying. Had the Leader of the Opposition handled things more adeptly, Hughes would still be a Member of Parliament. There would be celebrations in the Opposition wing. So it would be good not to hear any more talk of years of penance before he can return to the fold. Labour should welcome him back at the first available opportunity, in part because it needs his brilliance, in part because no charge has been brought against him. He is, as he has claimed from the start,  an innocent man, falsely accused. 

92 Comments:

  1. hear hear.
    but did it have to be this way?

  2. Genuine question: could Darren attempt to sue for defamation? Or was all of the speculative coverage kosher?

    BE: I haven’t seen everything that was said or written about him, so I can’t really answer that question. If you mean could he sue the 18-year-old for making the complaint, I very much doubt it. If this guy had been accusing him publicly of something that never happened, that might be a different matter. But with the police having found nothing with which to charge Darren, I would have thought that was a pointless course of action.

  3. No, bje – it didn’t. The shame of it all is, this is the way it happens every time. Guilty or not, he was doomed from the moment a complaint was made.

  4. Well said. I echo your sentiments

  5. there are a couple of things i disagree with here:

    Is it all right that an 18-year-old student has been able to potentially destroy the promising career of a brilliant politician and to do so anonymously?

    yes, it is right that a person should be able to make a complaint anonymously and should remain anonymous even though no charges have been laid. given the way our culture treats victims of sexual violence, there is no other just option. to do otherwise is to even further deter victims of sexual violence from making a complaint.

    let us remember that it wasn’t this 18-year-old who disclosed anything to the media. in fact, the person very much wanted the matter to stay out of the public eye, if we believe what phil goff had to say on the matter. to punish this person by removing anonymity (and therefore effectively punishing all future victims) for a malicious leak by others is hardly fair.

    our boys in blue, who are absolutely brilliant at tracking down rapists and killers

    i can barely stop coughing and spluttering at this to make any kind of comment. i’m sorry but the vast majority of rapists don’t get charged in this country, in fact the majority of rapes aren’t even reported. there are major issues with evidence collection across the country & police practice in this area vary hugely. i’d say there is also a significant issue with police attitudes to women who report rapes, and though there has been a significant attempt to change the culture within the police, they still have a long way to. i do agree that they are brilliant at tracking down killers though.

  6. I agree with Lynette. What a waste for a night of fun which went wrong or so it seems

  7. This is a great result. Charges would have been a tragedy for Darren personally and for politics and public life.

    Given where we have got to, the case for the complainant’s anonymity seems doubtful. Let us remember (Stargazer) that it was his mother who interviewed with the DomPost and told us all about her brilliant son (- not such a brilliant set of allegations it seems). While he may not have identified himself to the media, others close to him certainly did.

    Based on facts that are now in the public domain, a google search and a fairly straightfoward process of deduction leads to one result(which, b.t.w., seems to be the same result reached by a number of others conducting the same exercise it seems). If this result is correct, then the present injunction against publication of the complainant’s is ineffective and its legitimate to ask why it should stand.

    Conversely, if the person that I and others have identified is not the complainant, then that person is going to be thought of pretty unfavourably by a number of people without any justification. If so, this is hardly a fair situation either.

    In principle, I think I agree a person bringing a sexual complaint should have a right to anonymity. But thanks to the lengths to which some in the media have gone (Jonathan Marshall take a bow) the cat is at least partially out of the bag.

  8. What bothers me in this is the police phrase, “…the allegations do not reach the evidential threshold required to bring charges.”

    These weasel words effectively damn poor Darren Hughes by saying, “yes, there was some evidence but not enough.”

    In such cases why can the police not just say, “there is no case to answer?” Hughes is in an impossible position. He has not been able to clear himself in court yet he is open to the ‘nod, nod, wink, wink’ form of justice beloved by much of our media.

    In case of doubt, I would like to say I rejoice at Darren Hughes being cleared; I just wish it could have been quicker and more whole hearted.

    Incidentally i cannot share your admiration for the boys in blue and their brilliance. they are no better and no worse than most other Western Police forces; generally competent but more than capable of bungling investigations.

  9. actually stargazer, with this result- over a speculative, unproven, thoroughly investigated beatup, we don’t know which of the 2 men was the victim.just because you complain does not give you priority for favour when discriminating the truth.

  10. As a (mostly) Labour supporter I have to say I have been appalled at Goff’s handling of the matter from the start. Sex-related scandals are always going to happen from time to time. Dealing with the situation adequately is basic stuff for a political leader.

  11. A tough lesson for Darren .Perhaps this will encourage him to crusade aginst what I consider a less than just or timely action by our police force.Someone needs to be responsible for the 3 months it took the police to reach this decision. Its just not good enough.

  12. BE: “Labour should welcome him back at the first available opportunity, in part because it needs his brilliance,….”

    Doesn’t say much about the sharpness of the knives in Labour’s intellectual kitchen drawer, does it? Moreso, when ‘Dullard’ Mallard sings his songs of praise for Darren Hughes.

    On first-read, I was of the mind that you wrote this in exactly the same vein as your previous blog — tongue firmly pressed against cheek.

    You’re hailing the police’s decision not to charge, as a very close approximation to a wholesale exoneration of any wrongdoing; while at the same time, criticising the media by your using the pejorative: “tabloid press”. A vindication of Hughes not being engaged in conduct unbecoming of an MP, even?

    And that’s what really matters. It’s not so much about black-and-white “legal” and “illegal” behaviour, with there being so much grey. Especially, when conduct is blurred by alcohol.

    Hughes has yet to give an account of his own actions, that night. But what we do know: is that he took an impressionable 18-year-old youth back to his home at 2am in the morning after a function, where further alcohol was consumed. And that the boy — allegedly — fled the house, almost naked and very distraught, a short while later. Barring a pre-planned contrivance or impulse-fuelled fabrication brought on by drink, Hughes needs to give his own truthful account of what happened. And let his own Party and the public, judge. Up until now, he has not.

    Despite your wanting it to be so, the decision by the police not to press charges — does not mean that Hughes has emerged from this, lily-white. (Not unless, we’re talking about an anaemic-complected white to resemble his own pallor).

    As for the inordinately long time of 3 months, taken by the police to arrive at their decision; extrapolating from their “time is of the utmost essence” response from the Baby Pumpkin case — before they got around to checking inside the car boot — it’s about right.

    BE: Untested assumptions in this comment: “impressionable”,”where further alcohol was consumed”, boy “fled the house”, he was “distraught”, he was “almost naked”. Can you find me where: any of this has been said by the young man; any of this has been said by Hughes; any of this has been stated by the police. Or or you relying on scuttlebutt and conjecture by the media? Hughes by the way has absolutely no need or reason to make any statement about anything. The 18-year-old made a complaint against him. The police have examined that complaint and found it without merit. End of story. Get over it.

  13. “He is, as he has claimed from the start, an innocent man, falsely accused”.

    Er, no. As per your quote of the police, “the allegations do not reach the evidential threshold required to bring charges”. Like the David Bain trial, part II. Only then police thought there was a reasonable chance of winning a “guilty” verdict in that instance, whereas this time they don’t like their chances.

    As Hughes has decided not to front-foot it, and give his version of events (as his prerogative), the public will likely never be able to make up its individual or collective mind if he is “innocent”, as they do with David Bain. I personally don’t have a problem with that, but some might, particularly if they consider it a useful “lack of judgment” test when electing their MPs.

    However, like Colin Moyle, and Mark Todd, I have every faith in the average New Zealanders capacity, no matter what their political persuasion, to move on, and restore Darren Hughes in his interrupted career. Unless Goff drops the ball again…

  14. Your conclusion ‘He is, as he has claimed from the start, an innocent man, falsely accused’ is as speculative as anyone else’s opinion. The police, with all their fallibilities, rarely waste weeks of time investigating incidents that are obviously false. These ‘he said,she said or he said, he said’ incidents are notoriously difficult to unravel involving late nights, drinking, no witnesses, etc. Your comment ‘the 18 year old’s complaint didn’t stand up to scrutiny’ is also just conjecture…he may have changed his mind, forgotten, been pressured…who knows. More importantly, when you stand for public office, you do need to lift your game both on and off the field. Possibly this is why many of us wouldn’t contemplate entering politics choosing to sit on the sidelines armed with our moralistic judgement. But if you do decide to enter the bear pit, you will be held up to a higher standard than others, because you have chosen to be their representative, and even one day may end up running the country. Why shouldn’t we require higher standards from you than say those demonstrated by Mr. Weiner. For all his good points Darren Hughes showed appalling judgement in this matter and good judgement should be just about No 1 on a politician’s list.

  15. Agree with Brian’s post absolutely.
    Typically Merv continues the slurs.

    The naked man scenario is often quoted. Was he ever confirmed as the complainant?

  16. Ianmac, I do not think that Merv has ‘continued the slurs’; pretty much what he says is in the public domain.

    The slurs will continue first because the matter was handled badly by the Labout Party leadership, secondly because of the length of time it took for the poice to make a decision and thirdly because the police in their decision use this term ‘evidential threshold’.

    I am inclined to agree with Merv; it might be in Hughes’ best interests to provide the unvarnished truth of what lead to this incident, because if he does not he is going to be tainted forever. He should take the Shane Jones’ approach and make a full explanation no matter how unpleasant it may be for him. In the long run it is more likely to rehabilitate him in the eyes of the public.

    It is a great pity that the complainant having damaged Hughes’ reputation can hide under the cloak of anonymity. In my view he has some explaining to do.

    And if, Ianmac, the ‘naked man’ scenario was never confirmed, then a full explanation would go a long way to clearing the mystery and Hughes’ name.

    BE: And if Darren made a statement and swore on a stack of bibles that it was true, do you think it would make one iota of difference to Merv’s opinion? I very much doubt it. Hughes has made his statement to the police and they have chosen not to charge him. End of story.

  17. I agree it was handled badly by Goff but there is still an opportunity to handle it better – as others have suggested by Hughes fessing up fully, getting the appropriate level of slap from Goff and move on.

    BE: “Fessing up”? Isn’t that a term meaning to confess to some wrong one has done. Hughes has consistently denied that he did anything wrong. Now a police investigaton is not enough for you. Maybe Hughes should agree to submit to the ducking stool!

  18. stargazer, you have expressed my exact thoughts far more succinctly than me!

    We must give the benefit of the doubt to sexual assault victims every time. Blaming victims helps no one and will continue to discourage people from reporting crime. There are occasional liars, but we have to put up with them as obstacles on the path to justice for all.

    Imagine if we had stronger guidelines for reporting crime? If the story hadn’t been published until guilt was ascertained.

    I do hope to see Darren back in parliament. He seems upstanding and approachable, traits found lacking in many MPs.

    BE: “We must give the benefit of the doubt to sexual assault victims every time.” Unfortunately this is a meaningless suggestion, since it starts with the assumption that the complainant is indeed the victim. That can only be determined by the hearing of evidence, in which no benefit, least of all the benefit of doubt, should be given to anyone. Witnesses must be treated equally before the law.

  19. I’ve met Darren Hughes and I like him and respect his ability.

    But, seriously, is no one prepared to voice a qualm about him attending an event in his capacity as an MP, drinking heavily with teenagers from that event and then taking an 18 year-old home with him?

    I do hope he can resume a political career. But only after some counselling around alcohol and judgement.

    BE: My word, we are in a censorious, fuddy duddy mood today, Russell. The 18-year-old was a man under New Zealand law. He is assumed to have the capacity to make decisions on whether to accept an older man’s invitation to go home with him. And do we even know that there was such an invitation. Maybe he wanted to go home with Darren. And, again under New Zealand law, no crime or offence would have been committed if the two had engaged in sexual activity throughout the night. Even MPs are allowed to do that. So what are you on about? Unlike seemingly every other New Zealander, I don’t actually know whether Darren is gay or not. But is there some special code that I don’t know about under which it’s OK for straight MPs to have sex with younger women, but it isn’t OK for gay MPs to have sex with younger men. If this 18-year-old hadn’t gone to the police with a complaint, since thrown out by the police, none of us would even have heard about this and the ‘bad judgement’ criticism would never have arisen. If Hughes did show bad judgement, I would say it was in his choice of companion.

  20. Your conclusion ‘He is,as he has claimed from the start, an innocent man, falsely accused’ is only your personal opinion. The police for all their fallibilities rarely have the time to spend weeks investigating claims of wrongdoing that clearly have no foundation. These ‘he said/ she said or he said/ he said complaints’ are very difficult to ascertain, invariably accompanied by alcohol or drugs, darkness and no witnesses. You also state ‘the 18 year old’s complaint simply didn’t stand up to scrutiny’ which is also conjecture as he may have changed his mind after seeing the media frenzy, or been pressured. If you choose to go for public office you will be closely scrutinised and must maintain high standards both on and off the field. This is why most of us stay well clear and sit on the sidelines sniping with our moralistic judgement. These standards are important as you have chosen to represent us and indeed may one day end up running the country. Mr Weiner only too clearly shows us the path not to take. Judgement is probably the No1 attribute we require displayed by our representatives and in this case Darren Hughes failed demonstrably.

  21. Excuse me, but how is Phil Goff’s handling of Darren Hughes, so different to the way John Key dealt to Richard Worth?

    Key was widely applauded for not dithering about, by making his own on-the-spot moral judgement as to what was: “right”.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10578103

    He didn’t muck about with any niceties. When, Worth’s peccadilloes got the better of him, once too often, Key would’ve pulled him aside to ask him, straightforwardly:
    “Dick, please, tell me that your dickie didn’t get the better of you. Please, say it isn’t true”.
    When, Worth gazed down at his shoes, he was gone.

    How’s this any different from how Goff handled Hughes? Goff would have asked the question about any unsolicited advances and suggestions of impropriety, regarding his behaviour towards a youth under the influence of drink. If Hughes couldn’t give a categorical denial, Goff did the right thing by asking Hughes to polish up on his CV.

    Up until then, Goff’s being submerged in so much swill — enough to make a farmyard pig, envious — from the likes of Carter and Jones et al, it was time for him to show some mettle. It’s called: Decisive Leadership.

    Believe me, Parliament — and by default, the country — is better served, without Darren.

    BE: You really do write the most appallingly nasty trash, Merv.

  22. Brian, you have neatly skirted around the elephant in the room, the role of the mainstream news media, and a few craven individuals, in the public trial and execution of Darren Hughes. The terrifying thing about the Hughes incident is that the independent, rational, fair and impartial justice system tracking back to Magna Carta has been replaced by a handful of semi-educated journalists and their commercial masters. Game over, people, unless you own or run a newspaper or a TV station.

    BE: I didn’t think that was an issue I was known for ‘skirting around’.

  23. BE: My word, we are in a censorious, fuddy duddy mood today, Russell. The 18-year-old was a man under New Zealand law. He is assumed to have the capacity to make decisions on whether to accept an older man’s invitation to go home with him. And do we even know that there was such an invitation. Maybe he wanted to go home with Darren.

    Who knows? He presumably wasn’t taken there against his will. But it’s a dumb thing for an MP whose whole life has been about aspiring the highest political office — and good on him for that — to attend an event in his capacity as an MP, drink heavily, and take home an 18 year-old.

    And, again under New Zealand law, no crime or offence would have been committed if the two had engaged in sexual activity throughout the night. Even MPs are allowed to do that. So what are you on about? Unlike seemingly every other New Zealander, I don’t actually know whether Darren is gay or not. But is there some special code that I don’t know about under which it’s OK for straight MPs to have sex with younger women, but it isn’t OK for gay MPs to have sex with younger men.

    If a senior National MP went to an event in his official capacity, drank heavily, took home an 18 year-old girl and she subsequently made a rape complaint to the police — yeah, I think that would make the 6 o’clock news. Wall to goddamn wall. It would be seen as sleazy even without a rape complaint. The Standard would be all over it.

    If this 18-year-old hadn’t gone to the police with a complaint, since thrown out by the police, none of us would even have heard about this and the ‘bad judgement’ criticism would never have arisen. If Hughes did show bad judgement, I would say it was in his choice of companion.

    So with no knowledge of what actually happened, you’re absolving a grown man in a position of leadership of any responsibility for a night in which __something__ clearly went badly wrong — and exclusively blaming a 18 year-old in his first year of university? I just wanted to get that clear.

    BE “and exclusively blaming a 18 year-old in his first year of university?” Aw shucks. Poor naive baby. And here was I thinking it was he who was doing the blaming. And that it was he who had filed a complaint with the police that tore down the reputation and the career of a decent man with a great future. And that the police found that complaint to be without sufficient merit to proceed. And that, nonetheless, that decent man’s career was now in tatters, while his unnamed accuser could go back to university and continue preparing for his glittering career.

    What this is starting to look like is a career-destroyer’s charter or, if you wanted to make a bit of dough out of it, a blackmailer’s charter. Simple recipe: just accuse a prominent figure of something nasty. That’ll be it for them, unless they can provide witnesses to prove they were somewhere else at the time. And the joy of it is, that even if the cops conclude there’s no case to answer, the prominent figure is still going to be guilty in the eyes of the hoi polloi and will never be believed however much they explain, however open they are.

    And now I find all these commenters and some idiot academic who shares my name (and has a PhD) saying that Hughes has to ‘fess up, to tell us all what actually happened. Now that would be interesting, wouldn’t it? Very interesting, if anything of a sexual nature occurred, which is what everybody thinks.

    ‘So in the studio tonight we have Darren Hughes, who is going to tell us exactly what did occur on that fateful night. Darren.’

    ‘Thanks Mark. Well, first of all he took off his shirt and I… Then we went into the bedroom where… Then… And suddenly he seemed to…’

    Does anyone in their right mind think that Hughes should or could do a tell-all interview on the events of that night and morning?

    I certainly don’t. And I can see absolutely no reason why, in view of the police finding, he should do anything at all. Otherwise we are going to have a situation where anyone who has a false complaint made against them loses their right to privacy – and silence. Simon Power may approve of that, Russell, but I don’t. And I’d be surprised if you did either.

  24. hughes worked incredibly hard- he represented his party admirably and did his best to look after his constituents-what else do want? handsome tanned muscle man like arnie? ebullient joker like george dub? smoker like obama? earnest hen pecked tony? husband of criminal winnie, nelson? pound of flesh? damn politicians- they are all so guilty.they need to be more like us.

  25. rus(ty)sell-”if ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ were pots and pans there’d be no need for tinkers”.

  26. It is interesting reading some of the commnets especially Merv’s. In spite of the police taking no action DH is still damned in the eyes of many. You are probably right, Brian, when you say that even if DH made a statement of what happened the slurs would continue to circulate.

    Unlike Merv I think parliament and the country is ILL served by the absense of someone like DH. Whatever Russell may think I hope that in three years time DH will have been shown to have learned from this and can return to parliament.

    If a second chance can be given to a young man who makes a fatal mistake in his car and kills a child, surely we should be able to give DH a second chance.

  27. 27

    “since thrown out by the police”

    Calm down, Brian. Please. “Thrown out” is semantically overstating the police decision. There is a lot of heat being generated in this discussion.

    BE: I’m perfectly calm, thank you, Number 11. There were two options here. The police could charge Hughes on the basis of more than 3 months inquiry or they could not. I would have thought that if all those months of pondering did not produce enough evidence to put the 18-year-old ‘boy’s’ complaint before a judge or jury, it had been ‘thrown out’.

  28. This poor guy has been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. The only possible charge that could have been brought (since we made homosexuality legal some time ago) was rape or indecency of some sort. Speaks volumes about the ethics of all politicians that a) Labour flicked him off with such indecent haste (nobody really believes he resigned of his own free will in an election year surely?) and that b) the (centre) right was so keen to make political gain from something unproven but something that from their point of view reeked of vulnerability because it was allegedly male on male. Live by the sword, die by the sword: there are plenty of men of that persuasion in the blue side of the house as well, who should now be quaking in their slippers…

  29. DH is paying the price for a lack of judgement.

    BE: Well, he’s actually paying the price because a complaint was made against him which did not stand police scrutiny.

  30. hey meredith-he was overcharged.

  31. @ Meredith: “DH is paying the price for a lack of judgement”.

    That’s pretty much it, in a nutshell.

    I just know, that Goff wouldn’t have cut Hughes, loose, if what he’s gleaned from the responses proffered — implicit or explicit or silence — didn’t make him feel uneasy as well as queasy. Goff has come to believe that DH is unsalvageable. If it were America, DH’s silence would be the same as his taking the Fifth Ammendment. And we all know what that suggests.

    BE: “If Hughes did show bad judgement, I would say it was in his choice of companion.”
    I’m guessing, that would send a chill down the spines of most mothers of 18 year olds.

    Darren Hughes’ political career is finished. But, where one door closes, so another one opens. It has been mentioned that he dresses quite dapper; has a teriffic sense of colour coordination and balanced dress style. So, why not an exciting new career as a tailor’s assistant, with his experience in grooming?

    BE: “And we all know what that suggests.” Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more, know what I mean? Good argument, Merv.

    “Darren Hughes’ political career is finished. But, where one door closes, so another one opens. It has been mentioned that he dresses quite dapper; has a teriffic sense of colour coordination and balanced dress style. So, why not an exciting new career as a tailor’s assistant, with his experience in grooming?”

    I suggest you get the ball rolling in the ‘new career’ department, Merv, by training to be a human being.

  32. Only your mother Merv.

  33. “If a senior National MP went to an event in his official capacity, drank heavily, took home an 18 year-old girl and she subsequently made a rape complaint to the police — yeah, I think that would make the 6 o’clock news.”

    But Simon Bridges attended the debate as well and pushed on afterwards? Surely no problem with that as far as it goes. And, actually, you don’t really know do you how heavily anyone was drinking: the complainant, Hughes or anyone else?

    So, context aside, is your problem just the going home with an 18 year old? And, without the alleged interlude of “heavy drinking”, what exactly is the basis for objection here?

  34. I also can’t help but wonder if Darren Hughes would be so stoutly defended if he was a National MP and the complainant was female. I suspect that if the police failed to file charges there would be a massive outcry, particularly from women’s groups

    BE: “Witnesses must be treated equally before the law.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there are some special legal considerations when it comes to sexual assault complainants. Does Mr. Edwards not support these?

    BE:”The police have examined that complaint and found it without merit. End of story. Get over it.” Theres a mile of difference between “without merit” and insufficient to bring charges. I also recall Richard Prebble saying in relation to dropping Donna Awatere (before she was charged and subsequently convicted) that a higher standard was required of MP’s than simply to not be charged.

    Surely if Hughes wants to continue his political career he needs to make a personal statement giving his version, rather than his previous comment which was simply that he did nothing illegal.

  35. “BE: “Fessing up”? Isn’t that a term meaning to confess to some wrong one has done. Hughes has consistently denied that he did anything wrong. Now a police investigaton is not enough for you. Maybe Hughes should agree to submit to the ducking stool!”
    Actually the ducking stool could have some merit for some – but clearly not for Darren Hughes – by fessing up I meant, be transparent, Hughes has only said he did nothing wrong, Clinton said the same, but what did happen? Clean up the residual “smoke” is all I am saying.

    BE: A sexual tell-all, you mean? See my reply to Russell Brown.

  36. Shit Merv what planet are you on? Your homophobia is leaking out all over the place.

  37. Darren Hughes’ political career is finished

    Wishful thinking on your part there Merv. My guess is that Hughes will be back in parliament sooner rather than later. When are you going to grow out the need resort to infantile innuendo in the confused twaddle you seem unable to stop yourself spouting? You really are a trick.

  38. As I said way back when: it’s really only a simple case of “he said/he said”, and thus probably unresolvable.

    To which I’ll now add: I’d guess that the lack of definitive resolution has been exacerbated by the fact that there’s no gender difference in the mix, to skew prejudices/judgement etc.

  39. As recently as yesterday the DomPost hammered on again about the “naked man emerging from the house on the night”.

    But let’s remind ourselves that no one saw any such thing.

    There is one sole report of a naked man near the Hataitai Tunnel, some distance away from the house in question.

    He may or may not have existed, and may or may not have anything to do with Darren Hughes.

    Let’s not add to irresponsible media innuendo.

  40. The problem insofar as I am concerned relates to Hughes’s judgement.

    The point is well made by Brian and others that the complainent was a competent adult capable of taking responsibility for his actions – and therefore it was ok for Darren to take him back to his place. This is true, but only up to a point.

    Having acknowledged the above, I come back to question of judgement. And this concerns whether it is appropriate for the then opposition spokesperson for education (Darren Hughes)to have bought home an 18 year old just out of school for, presumably (I’m speculating) sexual activity. Some may think this is ok. I don’t if you are the spokesperson for education.

    “just out of school” You can see where this is leading: “barely out of school… little more than a schoolboy… still in short pants…” People “just out of school” can marry, go to war, vote, consume alcohol… Maybe we should rethink all of that.

  41. Richard Aston: It’s about their respective age differences; NOT orientation, you blinkered idiot.
    And — have you not noticed his necktie? It’s more than just a “half-decent” Windsor Knot; it’s three-angled linear symmetric and beautifully puffed.

    Foxy-Loxy: Sorry, Hughes just ain’t comin’ back. He’s got as much chance of making it back into Parliament as he has of landing a job as a secondary-schoolteacher.

    Given the tawdry nature of the circumstances of this “incident” and in the absence of an avowed denial from Hughes, as to not “putting the moves on this youth”; he has not so much jeopardised his political career as having forfeited it. Completely.

    Is it too much to expect some moral decency from our MPs, when it comes to a first-time meeting with a teenager at a function?

  42. You seem to be practically salivating at the prospect of getting the juice Merv. Most people really couldn’t give a damn mate.

  43. Brian

    I find myself agreeing with Russell Brown.

    I take your point we don’t know the full details of what went occurred at the Labour Party house. But your reference to the case being “thrown out” and Hughes bad judgement choosing a companion implies you believe Hughes was the offended party, and that the 18 year old was culpable in how things turned out.
    It seems like a very tribal view.

    BE: See my later reply to Russell, John.

  44. Nice argument Grant. Can you tell me whether it is appropriate for the opposition spokesperson for Health to have sex with an adult who is “just out of” hospital?

  45. Although Hughes is entitled to the presumption of innocence, he certainly isn’t “falsely accused” as the police have since made clear. The police have formed the undoubtedlty correct view that the chances of securing a conviction are not high enough to put the case before the courts. The reasons for that are clear enough from even the sketchy details we know about – two men with no other witnesses, late at night, alcohol involved, he said – he said, lots of opportunity for misreading of signals, no “hard” evidence to put before the courts. It doesn’t mean something didn’t (or did) happen; it doesn’t mean a crime was (or wasn’t) committed; just that no solid evidence sufficient to prosecute exists.

  46. Come out of your closet Merv. We don’t mind.

  47. I know not Mr. Hughes or the other fella in this affair, and certainly don’t care of Mr. Hughes’ sexual orientation. It is eminently obvious that homophobia is alive and well in this country – how sad Merv and others!

    As in business, this country needs people that are worldly wise to ‘run the ship’ and balance the ‘pro’s and con’s’ in regard to a huge number of policies. Fortunately we appear to have that.

    Whether they be man or woman, dwarf or giant, dark-skinned or white, red-haired or black – surely it is their ability that counts?

    I hope that we see an incredibly intelligent and able dark-skinned, blonde-haired gay female amputee as our Prime Minister soon! Perhaps then we can get on with living in a great place and cut the crap!

  48. I am amazed this poor kid is being painted as the villain. What a dreadful start to his university studies. No wonder women are reluctant to pursue complaints.
    Whatever the rights and wrongs, a person in a position of leadership should not regard kids fresh out of school as sexual prey. Hughes should have sent the kid safely home. Hughes is old enough, and apparently ‘brilliant’ enough’ to know when to stop drinking and when the alarm bells are ringing.
    Brian – I like your writing but I think you are being so partisan here you are defying logic and commonsense.

  49. mervyn doth protests to much, methinks.

  50. that’s too much, of course.

  51. Brian, you vehemently translate ” Insuficient evidence to bring charges ” as meaning there was no wrongdoing…… Does this mean that the Kahui twins are still alive ?

    BE: You know, Lloyd that’s the sort of idiotic, dishonest, utterly pointless comparison that really gets me mad. Chris Kahui was charged with the murder of those babies and found not guilty. What we can be sure of is that someone in that family killed the twins, we just don’t know who.

  52. Does this mean that the Kahui twins are still alive

    Ridiculous and emotive false equivalence.

  53. If the naked man event from the paper never happened Hughes should just say so – the fact he hasn’t doesn’t sit well with me personally. Surely it’s the easiest thing in the world to deny it if it’s not true. For me and many others, that would then be the end of the matter and I’d welcome him back to parliament.

  54. Media Tip from Brian Edwards.

    “If you can’t tell the truth – stay away”, which is why of course we are all non the wiser about what really happened that night.

    Which simply means that telling lies to the media is both unacceptable and stupid. And of course, if a complaint is made about you to the police, you can’t ‘stay away’.

  55. lloyd- with all due respect, you’ve accidently jumped tracks and you’re heading off on the worst crimes against humans train when we’re on the phantom maybe naked man seen running and who really cares unless you get over excited about sexual possibilities and innuendo (no pun intended)train.

  56. Brian, I agree with your viewpoint and it’s not often the case that I’m in agreement with you.

    Those getting in a lather about Hughes “taking home” his accuser seem to be missing a simple point. The complainant may have asked to go with Hughes who could of course have told him to bugger off. And one could imagine the outcry if the complainant had been attacked while finding his way home. Then Hughes would have been an insensitive prick for not letting the guy stay over. Sometimes you can’t win.

  57. Re post from Mike June 10th, 2011 at 16:30

    Brian, have a real good read of this, again. Because that’s exactly how I see it. The police investigated the sexual harassment charges against Richard Worth and decided, after a lengthy enquiry, not to bring charges. Did you slate the PM for his precipitous response, in giving Richard Worth the DCM? How is this so different from the Hughes’ case? Oh, Goff, did give Hughes a few weeks grace; something, that Key did not afford to Worth.

    I’m betting, that Goff has a very good idea of what actually went down that night; and he’s still getting nauseous spells when he thinks about it. And I’ll swear on your “stack of bibles”: that, had this been an MP on the other side of the political divide and someone you had crossed swords with, you would be frothing, spluttering for his blood.

    “Aunty’s” protégé or not: Darren Hughes is just no good. But don’t fret, he’s not “dog tucker”; because your ordinary canine would prefer to go hungry than to dine on him.

  58. Shortly after the jury took ten minutes to find Chris Kahui not guilty, the police were asked if they would prosecute the real killer. The response was also ” insufficient evidence to bring charges ” This was obviously the only comparison I made between the cases in order to point out the absurdity of only translating the words to mean ” There was no crime committed ” Your anger at my idiotic dishonesty, is to some degree, a reciprocal emotion Brian.

  59. On Radio National Sunday Morning Media this morning the issue of the Media’s part in the Hughes saga was examined. The interview with Vernon Small (I think?) showed that he was totally unconcerned about the role that the Media had played. Just doing their job and no concerns about the possibility that they had caused any damage. A very interesting item but not yet on replay.

  60. Did I use a sledge hammer to drive home a point, when only a tack hammer would have sufficed ? Of course I did, but only to point out, that in this article ,you have drawn immense self validation , from what is essentialy your own speculation . Strange ,when your whole thread is based on your ire at the speculation of others.
    The media is a great tool for stiffling opinion at times isn’t it ?

  61. no lloyd. you have further used two mortally tortured, wee, defenceless, sad, infant boys that were used as punching bags – to further your argument about some trivial crap.

  62. Sunday Morning Media
    http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mwatch/mwatch-20110612-0908-mediawatch_for_12_june_2011-048.mp3

  63. Paul

    “Nice argument Grant. Can you tell me whether it is appropriate for the opposition spokesperson for Health to have sex with an adult who is “just out of” hospital?” June 10th

    Its a matter of judgement I would have thought Paul. Depending on the circumstances it may or may not be. If the individual was just out of school as well then I doubt that it would be appropriate. But you may see it differently, which of course is your perogative.

    Talking about judgement, you can also argue that it was Goff, as well as Hughes, that snaffled Hughes career, through poor poitical management of the situation. Goff’s judgement has now denied Labour from having its “star’ remain in parliament fighting the good fight for labour for the foreseeable future. This is not the fault of the media.

  64. It really does make a difference to have influential friends when one is in a bit of bother, does it not?Friends such as Opposition spokespersons,website operators et al.By the way,has anyone seen or heard of Ms King lately?

  65. Murray, Annette King is convalescing. She was there that fateful night, with Darren and the student. What she had the misfortune to witness, left her deaf, dumb and blind. Good news, tho’, sight is gradually returning to her left eye.

  66. The erect Phallus and scrotum you might see in the caricature of Darren Hughes is quite unintentional,according to the caricaturist.

  67. Edward – thanks for sharing that – when did you first start seeing phalluses (or phali) in cartoon images?

  68. Brian I agree with everything you have said in your three blogs about the Darren Hughes affair and everything you have said in reponse to your responders.

  69. You guessed it Richard,only when I saw Murray’s caricature of Darren. Now,I wonder why that might be. Incidentally, I know a somewhat schizophrenic chap who used to hallucinate and see them with wings flapping around outside his window. Funny old world, isn’t it.

  70. Let’s not waste any more words on Darren Hughes, whom has been consigned to but a footnote in NZ politics.
    Like, a police officer dispersing rubberneckers, gawking at the body of a fatal road accident:
    “C’mon, folks, let’s just move along. Nothing much more to be seen here”.

    BE: “Let’s not waste any more words on Darren Hughes, whom has been consigned to but a footnote in NZ politics.” That should be “who has been consigned”, Merv. Passive construction. You wouldn’t say, “Him was eaten by a lion”, now would you. I only make this point because i know you are such a stickler for correct English usage.

  71. Your second i in the last sentence should have been I. I only make this point because I know you are such a stickler for correct English usage.

    BE: Well thank you, Rick. However, your ironic point loses its thrust when you consider that the lower case I in my sentence has absolutely nothing to do with English usage. It is, most sensible people would have concluded, a typographical error. You may have thought that I was making gratuitous fun of Merv by drawing attention to his error, but Merv’s concept of English grammar and syntax is somewhat eccentric.

  72. I wonder what slant Brian would have taken if Lockwood Smith had got himself into this Pickle. He is not Labour and also not a friend of Brian’s on Face Book. Me thinks he doth defend to much.

  73. rick- you’re not even on the right page of this book.

  74. Thank you bje. Sadly I have no idea what you are referring to.

  75. For those sticklers of the correct usage of the English language,a preposition is something up with which I shall not put.

    BE: Originally attributed to Winston Churchill who thought the rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition was stupid. He said: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.” This illustrated very nicely the ugly result which applying the rule could produce.

  76. BE: In your case, I’m thinking, that your “who” assumes the form of the interrogative pronoun. I woulda thought that as I’ve already mentioned the name, “Darren Hughes”, it’d be, “whom”. Or, am I confusing the proper name “Who” for the interrogative pronoun “who”?
    Quote: “Many English speakers do not know the difference between who and whom. In some places, it hardly matters, because using who when you should use whom is so common that it’s not even considered much of a mistake.”

    Shows, that many grammatical rules aren’t set in stone, because they are always changing. It use to be the case, that: “Place a comma before a conjunction introducing an independent clause”. But the Herald doesn’t do it.

    All that mind-numbing pedantic stuff aside, I don’t mind being corrected. What I do mind — was your kicking me, fair-square, right in the guts. Ergo,

    “You really do write the most appallingly nasty trash, Merv”.
    “I suggest you get the ball rolling in the ‘new career’ department, Merv, by training to be a human being”.

    Pretty bad, that. But your words haven’t fallen on deaf ears. Because, lately, I’ve given to patting the Zumba instructor’s cat, ‘Tiggy’, each-and-every time I go to class; it’s to reaffirm my “human-being-ness” and kind-heartedness. And Tiggy will vouch for that.

    BE: I think the answer to your complaint about my lack of kindness in dealing with you, Merv, is summed up in the old saying, “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” However, I’m happy to concede that though you are often “appallingly nasty”, you are rarely dull and you do provoke a lot of discussion.

  77. Good heavens. Tiggy the cat and now the goose and the gander. This is either an extreme example of thread drift or I’ve by accident stumbled into the annual meeting of the SPCA.

  78. As a regular contributor, I found those remarks hurtful.

    BE: I’m sorry you found the remarks hurtful and I’m happy to apologise. But in return you will have to moderate what you say about other people. It is also frequently intemperate and, I would imagine, hurtful to them. You can’t have one standard for yourself and a different standard for everyone else.

  79. merv- don’t be offended. you are actually being treated with respect when people are up front and honest about their thoughts. nothing worse than a backstabber.you say your thoughts on this blog and sometimes they make people smile, sometimes wince, sometimes make us really think and nod- and sometimes we just have to press the exit key. but don’t be affronted when we bite back.

  80. That is true MrE,but my quote was an unfortunate and inadvertant abreviation of the original from an American comedian whose name escapes me at this time.The full quote is as follows,a preposition at the end of a sentence is something up with which I shall not put.

  81. I have been meaning to comment on this issue for some time.

    I think the lesson to be taken from this is that Mr Hughes should have been very careful about getting himself into this type of situation in the first place.

    To be honest, if someone wants to explore his sexuality. there are plenty of discreet ways in which to carry this out.

  82. oo- are there millsy? how many ways? you going to describe them?are they fullproof? what are they fullproof against? do carry on.

  83. Well ‘bje’ put it this way. They dont involve getting the impression that an enjoyable night out with a group of like minded people some how translates into an offer of something more.

  84. isn’t that usually the way people get together? haven’t we all had our awkward moments? are you making an offer? i’m ‘lost in translation’ here.

  85. BE: i have removed your comment a) because it is defamatory and b) because I’m not interested in publishing ‘enough said’ innuendo.

  86. BE: I’ve removed your comment about Edward out of fairness because I removed his comment.

  87. Enough said, sounds just like Brian’s “That should be the end of the matter” and “End of story. Get over it.” Moving right along now.

  88. edward- for author’s intent- read through to the END of the sentence.
    ‘enough said’ innuendo. ‘innuendo’ being the operative word.
    partial comprehension appears to be debilitating your understanding of things in this instance. careful that overuse doesn’t effect your views. mmmm.

  89. is debilitating a verb- i don’t think that looks right. an adjective, eh? in too much of a rush at present.

  90. Oh God no! The pedants will soon be chiming in, telling you that it is a gerund and every itemized way you may correctly use this verbal noun.

  91. Reality is that most heterosexual men are hardwired for homophobia and many react badly to having the hard word put on them. I personally don’t have any great problem with gays, (unless its a stud animal I’ve paid good money for), but I remember getting into some truly weird situations when I was 18 and ignorant. If Hughes is gay, he seems to have badly undeveloped gaydar. And did this 18 year old go to the cops? If press reports got it right, the cops found him.