Whatever Darren Hughes did or didn't do, it more probably than not wasn't criminal. Can we all move on now? ... thought not.

So the police have concluded that there is insufficient evidence regarding the allegations of sexual offending against Darren Hughes to warrant his prosecution. I doubt that this will be the end of the matter as far as some folks are concerned - the linked report refers to an "anonymous letter" sent to media organisations raising further allegations - but I stand by my comments in the thread to this previous post on the "Hughes' Affair":

Agreed that a decision not to press any charges does not necessarily mean "nothing much happened - and certainly nothing criminal" ... it may be that the police simply consider there isn't enough evidence to justify charges (in that there is a low probability of a conviction being obtained). However, I suspect that if this comes down to a "he said"/"he said" situation with nothing much to back one side over the other, the police will err on the side of bringing matters before a court. In part, that's because of a general awareness that such allegations have not been taken seriously enough in the past, and in part it's because the police will be desirous of avoiding "cover up" allegations. Hence, I'd read a decision not to lay charges as weighing a bit more on the side of "nothing criminal happened" than on the side of "maybe something criminal happened, but there just isn't enough to say for sure".

Of course, as Anthony Weiner presently is discovering, not breaking the law isn't necessarily enough to save a political career once the scent of "sexual misconduct" hits the air. And Hughes' political fate was effectively sealed once the decision to try and keep the matter under wraps was taken by Phil Goff. So, sad all around - and by that I mean that we can't forget there is an 18-year-old man who now has to face being "the guy Darren Hughes did something with" for the foreseeable future.

But while we're on the point of the police erring one way or the other, let me just echo David Farrar's criticism of Stuart Nash and Andrew Little for publicly calling on the police to hurry up their decision. It's not on for political figures to be seen to be pressuring the police to act or not act - I said it when John Key did it, and I say it again here. Just 'cause you are a politician who can get the media to report what you say does not mean that you should say whatever it is you are thinking on a topic.

Comments (5)

by Richard James McIntosh on June 12, 2011
Richard James McIntosh

Geddis articles shouldn't be without comment.

"Just sayin'", so to speak.

by on June 12, 2011
Anonymous

Andrew Little has shown dodgy judgement before - he was responsible for the Labour party dropping the ball in the last election campaign through persuing attack politics (which he never did produce any evidence to support). What would he do if he had access to actual power? Mr Goff should watch his back.

by Andrew Geddis on June 13, 2011
Andrew Geddis

Richard.

Thank you. Glad someone grasped the nettle ...

Susan:

"Andrew Little has shown dodgy judgement before - he was responsible for the Labour party dropping the ball in the last election campaign through persuing attack politics (which he never did produce any evidence to support)."

I think you may be a bit confused. Andrew Little only became party president of Labour in 2009 - after the 2008 election. The president at that time, as well as campaign manager, was Mike Williams (who went to Melbourne chasing the "H-Fee" story).

by Frenchy on June 15, 2011
Frenchy

Are Little's comments the same as Key's though? He's not technically a member of any branch of government, yet, so can't he call on the police to do anything he wants without pushing the same constitutional limits as the PM? To continue the Kafka reference: "If it really was so easy to influence the judges through personal contacts as the lawyer had said then the painter's contacts with these vain judges was especially important"

by Andrew Geddis on June 16, 2011
Andrew Geddis

Sam,

You are right. Key's comments were, in my opinion, a quite blatant breach of constitutional convention. Little's weren't. So to that extent, I over-egged my comments. Fair point.

But saying that, I think as a prudential matter those in public office (or seeking public office) should think hard before using their position to (in effect) advocate through the media for their friend's interests with regard to a police investigation. I mean, it's not as if there was an issue of greater public interest at stake here ... unless Darren Hughes' case is symptomatic of a systemic failure in how these cases are treated? In which case, where's the follow up?

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