Jacinda Ardern 'very disturbed' about allegations of sexual misconduct at Labour Party youth camp

Andrea Vance
Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she's "very disturbed" to hear about allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct at a Coromandel summer camp the party hosted last month.

Allegations emerged this afternoon that four teenage Labour members were sexually assaulted at the camp last month.

Ms Ardern was blindsided by the claims at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference late this afternoon but pledged to investigate.

She said she had attended the camp before the incidents took place and "none of that was apparent when I was there".

This evening the Prime Minister released a statement.

"I'm very disturbed to hear about the allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct that occurred at the Summer Camp."

"I expect young people, and indeed anyone, attending our camps can do so knowing the environment is safe," Ms Ardern said. 

"I've sought assurances that everything is being done to support the complainants. I've also asked the party to take every step possible to ensure that our events are safe for everyone who attends in the future.

"I understand this work is already underway, and started as soon as the complaints were received," she said.

Labour MP Angie Warren-Clark confirmed this afternoon that a party member was sent home from a youth camp for "bad behaviour".

Ms Warren-Clark gave a speech on feminism on the Sunday morning of the weekend camp.

The alcohol-fuelled sexual misconduct and harassment was reported to have occurred the evening before.

Ms Warren-Clark said she was aware there was a "boozy evening" and an attendee was sent home, but she only learned details of the allegations this afternoon.

She said she was "shocked and very disappointed" and the party had a "zero-tolerance" policy on sexual harassment.

1 NEWS understands that complaints were not laid with the police following the incidents.

In a statement this evening, Labour Party General Secretary Andrew Kirton said the party is "extremely disappointed".

"The Labour Party is extremely disappointed that young people attending the Young Labour camp were exposed to highly inappropriate behavior by an individual who was also at the event," Mr Kirton says.

"We are extremely disappointed that an incident like this happened at a Labour event and we are working to make sure those involved receive any support they need. We are deeply sorry for the distress that's been caused. It shouldn't have happened."

Mr Kirton says an external review of its policies and procedures involving alcohol has been initiated.

He say says professional support has been offered to those involved.

Excessive alcohol consumption at event

Mr Kirton further told 1 NEWS apart from Young Labour secretary Tess Macintyre, there were three other people overseeing the social event.

The Labour Party have contacted the victims telling them they would have the party's full support if they report the behaviour they experienced to police, but they won't be laying a complaint on their behalf.

Andrew Kirton said people brought their own alcohol to the event at the holiday camp.

He said he believes there was excessive alcohol consumption at the event.

"We need to seriously look at the role alcohol plays in events," he said.

He said a separate room was organised for those drinking alcohol and the allegation there was underage drinking is part of the party's investigation.

The Young Labour event organisers told Mr Kirton preventative measures including responses to 16 different situations, a welfare team, sober drivers and event organisers were in place.

"I'm totally gutted by it. It's totally distressing to everyone involved and we are working with an external organisation to review operations across the party including a review of the party's preventative measures at events."