As a highly principled politician, Alf publicly champions decency, democracy, fair trials and the admirable notion that we are all innocent until proven guilty.
He firmly believes the well of justice will be poisoned by the pre-trial publicity that too often can be given to a case by circulation-hungry newspapers and ratings-obsessed broadcast media.
He accordingly condemns news media that feed off the plight of well known public figures who find themselves the subjects of police investigations. Leave it alone (he urges) until the police have done their thing and brought the suspect to court, where all the relevant facts are publicly aired before a judge and/or jury.
He is dismayed, therefore, that the NZ Herald has gone fishing for more information (or, more likely, is hoping to dig up more dirt) after Labour’s Darren Hughes confirmed he is the MP at the centre of allegations about a police investigation relating to a late-night incident.
The hacks at the Herald are asking the public:
Do you know anything about the alleged incident?
They are not gathering this information to help the police with their inquiries, we can be sure.
Nope. The intention will be to sort the titillating from the untoward and give it a good public airing, no matter how much Hughes’ reputation might be sullied before he gets a fair trial.
On the other hand, Alf must confess that he will probably read whatever the Herald – and other media – dig up.
He is grateful, of course, that in this case the focus of media attention is on a Labour politician (who obviously went astray at the point he made his party choice). What’s more Hughes has red hair.
The whiff of something for the gossip-mongers must have been wafting around Parliament yesterday, although Alf did not pick it up.
And so the Herald earlier today was reporting that –
Labour was last night refusing to comment on allegations one of its MPs is the subject of a police inquiry following a late-night incident.
The complaint allegedly relates to an incident involving a young man.
One source said officers were understood to have interviewed several people and obtained a search warrant, although police could not confirm that last night.
The MP at the centre of the allegations did not return calls and a spokesman for Labour leader Phil Goff said there would be no comment on the matter.
If one MP isn’t talking, chances are another one will. And so the Herald tried again, but –
Deputy leader Annette King, when approached about the MP and the allegations, also said she had “nothing to say”.
Hughes did his colleagues a favour by outing himself this morning.
Labour MP Darren Hughes has confirmed he is the MP at the centre of allegations about a police investigation relating to a late night incident, but says he has “done nothing wrong”.
Mr Hughes, 32, confirmed a complaint had been laid with police about him and he was cooperating fully with police.
“I have done nothing wrong and I have full confidence that the legal processes will lead to the right outcome.”
Alf is not normally disposed to say good things about his Labour opponents, but in this case he gives Hughes a lot of brownie for decidng to publicly name himself
“…because I think it is unfair that my colleagues should be subjected to speculation and suspicion.”
He said he appreciated police needed to look into the matter properly and would not make any further comment until their inquiries were completed.
Hughes has been packed off on leave until the matter is sorted out one way or the other.
The Herald says the complaint against Hughes is understood to have been made by an 18-year-old man.
But the newspaper doesn’t tell us much more, except that
Wellington police have confirmed they were investigating a complaint involving a current Member of Parliament about an incident alleged to have occurred in an inner city suburb in the early hours of Wednesday, March 2.
Wellington District field crime manager detective inspector Mike Johnson said: “Inquiries into the matter are continuing but police are not seeking any assistance from the public at this stage.”
As a principled politician who believes we are all entitled to a fair trial, Alf hopes that will be end of the matter until the case comes to trial or the police say they will not be prosecuting the MP.
As a glutton for gossip, he can’t wait for the next disclosures.