The Green Party has been aware of a shoplifting allegation about Golriz Ghahraman since December 27, its co-leaders have confirmed.
The party also confirmed it was made aware of a second allegation last week.
In a joint statement posted to social media, co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson said they first became aware of an allegation “involving Golriz Ghahraman andScotties Boutique in Auckland” in late December.
“At that stage, the situation was not clear.
“To help us understand the details of what may have happened, a representative of the Green Party sought clarification from the store, as well as from Ms. Ghahraman.
“However, with Ms. Ghahraman on a long-planned personal trip overseas, Scotties confirmed that they were comfortable waiting for her to return to New Zealand to resolve the issue.”
The statement said the co-leaders agreed to address the matter with Ghahraman “as soon as she returned to New Zealand”.
“On 5th January we were advised of allegations relating to a second incident at Scotties.”
Allegations first hit the media on Wednesday – January 10.
“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.
“We hope this clarifies some of the questions you may have.”
Green ‘heads in the sand’ over allegations – commentator
Prior to the co-leaders’ statement, political commentator and National Party member Brigitte Morten told 1News while the allegations were damaging, much of the damage was from the “silence” from the Green Party and Ghahraman.
The Green Party had previously issued a brief statement saying it was aware of the allegations, had stood Ghahraman down from her portfolios while the facts were established, and that neither it nor Ghahraman herself would comment further until that was the case.
Ghahraman is currently out of the country on a planned trip.
“Clearly the party needs to take action. At the moment it is really damaging their credibility. They’re seen as not having leadership on this issue, they’re seen as not being supportive of the retail staff or police … they just look like they’re putting their heads in the sand.”
Morten said it was “totally fine” that Ghahraman was having a holiday overseas, “but that doesn’t mean you can’t be accountable to your voters”.
Morten said Ghahraman should give a statement on the issue.
“The Greens just had a record election result, she’s a very senior member of that party, she should be more considerate of her voters and of her caucus colleagues.”
Morten said a lot of criticism of politicians was unfair, but it didn’t mean Ghahraman didn’t need to front up on the allegations.
“A lot of people go for the personal attacks or even the racist or the sexist attacks. But you can’t distinguish this from the big issue, there are serious allegations here: the value of what she allegedly took from that store is very high and her behaviour since, in not fronting.
“There is going to be unfair criticism, but there’s a lot of very fair criticism as well.”