Golriz Ghahraman will resign as an MP effective immediately.
It follows claims the Green MP shoplifted from two different stores on three different occasions. She has not been charged.
The party’s co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson released a statement on Ghahraman’s resignation just after midday today, alongside a separate statement from Ghahraman herself, in which she said she had “let down a lot of people”.
“I am very sorry.”
The co-leaders’ joint statement said was clear to them Ghahraman was “in a state of extreme distress”.
They said she had “taken responsibility and apologised” and they supported her decision to resign.
“Golriz Ghahraman has been the leading voice in Parliament for human rights, truly independent foreign policy, and electoral reform for six years. Her political achievements are significant.
“Green MPs are expected to maintain high standards of public behaviour.
“We are deeply sorry to see Ms Ghahraman leave under these circumstances and we wish her all the best for the future.”
Their joint statement said Ghahraman had “worked tirelessly” on behalf of her communities and “nothing detracts from that work”.
“We know she will continue to support those communities in the future.”
They said they could not comment on the details of the allegations while police investigations were ongoing.
Ghahraman has been an MP since 2017 and is seventh on the Greens list. It is likely Celia Wade-Brown, former mayor of Wellington, will take her place in Parliament, being number 15 on the Greens’ list.
Ghahraman said in a statement: “I have let down a lot of people and I am very sorry.”
“It is clear to me that my mental health is being badly affected by the stresses relating to my work. This has led me to act in ways that are completely out of character. I am not trying to excuse my actions, but I do want to explain them.
“People should, rightly, expect the highest standards of behaviour from their elected representatives. I fell short. I’m sorry.
“It’s not a behaviour I can explain because it’s not rational in any way, and after medical evaluation, I understand I’m not well.
“The mental health professional I see says my recent behaviour is consistent with recent events giving rise to extreme stress response, and relating to previously unrecognised trauma.
“With that in mind, I don’t want to hide behind my mental health problems, and I take full responsibility for my actions which I deeply regret.
“I have let down a lot of people and I am very sorry.
“The best thing for my mental health is to resign as a Member of Parliament and to focus on my recovery and to find other ways to work for positive change in the world. “
She said her resignation would be immediate.
She said it was a “great honour” to serve as a Member of Parliament.
“I am proud of my advocacy work on human rights and foreign affairs, and particularly proud of campaigns that resulted in practical improvements to the electoral laws governing donations and overseas voting.
“I want to thank the many communities and people who have supported me over the years. I will continue to work with and to advocate for those communities however I can, as best I can.
“I also want to especially thank Scotties Boutique for the kindness and empathy they have shown me.
“I now ask for people to give me the space and privacy I need to get better. I won’t be commenting further at this time.”
Ghahraman, a former lawyer and seventh on the Green Party list, had been accused of shoplifting at an upmarket Ponsonby boutique, Scotties.
The allegations were revealed last week at a time when Ghahraman had been out of the country on a long-planned trip. The party on Monday confirmed she was back in New Zealand. Yesterday a further claim was made about an incident at Wellington store Cre8iveworx.
On January 10 the party confirmed Ghahraman had been stood down from her portfolio responsibilities – which include justice – while the facts of the situation were established.
On Friday, Green co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson confirmed in a joint statement they had become aware of the allegation before New Year.
The party also confirmed it was made aware of a second allegation – alleged to have occurred at the same shop – on January 5.
“Scotties had told us they did not want the allegations to become public so we did not make a statement at the time. However, Ms. Ghahraman did agree to stand down from her portfolios until the matter was resolved.”
The statement said the Green Party had a “long-standing commitment to looking into matters such as these in a way that is fair to everyone involved”.
“We will not be commenting further until we have gathered all the facts and spoken with Ms. Ghahraman after she returns to New Zealand.
“In the meantime, we are aware that some people may be working to exploit this situation for their own political gain.
“To that effect, let us be clear that no other Green Party MPs were involved in the alleged incident, we have had no contact with the Police, and it would not be appropriate for us to comment on their investigation in any way.”
Police have confirmed they are investigating reports of an incident on December 23. They received the report the same day.
*Davison and Shaw will speak with media around 1.30pm – it will be live streamed at 1News.co.nz