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Dover Samuels...Stood Down...Denies Allegations…Sort Of
Sludge Report #16
Sludge Reports On The Dover Samuels Scandal
Initially when the Dover Samuels sexual allegations story broke, Sludge was in two minds whether to report the scandal at all.
Having heard on the journalism grape vine the allegations involved sex with a young underage girl, and that Mr. Samuels was involved in her subsequent abortion, Sludge held off reporting these details.
Sludge took the rather uncharacteristic high moral view that these as-yet-unproven allegations were too sleazy to print (the rest of the media however did not seem to share Sludge’s concerns).
It was not for Sludge to help cover the Minister in the “vomit” issuing from the leader of ACT (Mr. Samuels’ personal statement in the House was much more colourful in Maori).
It helped that in the first hours the story broke, Mr. Samuels angrily and categorically denied these claims. Sludge’s caution in such matters was fuelled with reasonably large dollops of fear against defamation proceedings from an angry and potentially litigious Mr. Samuels, whom, Sludge notes, had to be physically restrained when talking to architect of the sleaze – ACT’s yapping telltale Richard Prebble.
Now however Sludge can no longer justify not commenting on the allegations, especially since they have been given wide coverage in Holmes, and Hills around the country.
What has emerged from today’s revelations is a rather sorry tale which makes even the scandal weary side of Sludge pale slightly – with confusion as much as with moral distaste.
Sludge observes that Mr. Samuels’ denials of the case are rather confusing. On one hand Mr. Samuels has denied the claims “categorically” and refers them to the correct channel of inquiry the police.
Sludge assumes Mr. Samuels is referring to the underage sexual allegations.
What makes Mr. Samuels’ response strange is that Mr. Samuels does not deny having a sexual relationship with the girl, who the most recent evidence seems to suggest was a troubled individual from a troubled family.
He at the time was in his middle years (45, by Sludge’s mathematics) – she in her, as-yet indeterminate, teenage years.
She young and poor, he, while not yet a member of Parliament or a Minister, still a relatively important member of the Maori community.
Sludge, despite itself finds this imbalance disturbing – whether or not Mr. Samuels technically broke the law or not.
It could be that Sludge’s focus on Mr. Samuels ignores the other indiscretions of members of Parliament which, because of the reserve of our politicians and media, have not yet come to light.
Or is this a new precedent? It should be - otherwise the system does seem to be racist.
Maori politicians are getting a rather rough ride it seems, and the same scrutiny is not given to their Pakeha counterparts. Sludge awaits a slew of salacious sexual scandals about members male and female from every nook and cranny of the house – and hey, why not the media too? A speaker's chair story springs to mind.
This morning Sludge witnessed what amounted to trial by National Radio of Mr Samuels.
This is hardly surprising since it appears that it was in fact Mr Samuels own comments on his predicament that have dropped him so deep in it.
Nevertheless the most telling moment in this trial was arguably when the PM told Sean Plunket she had been assured that the woman involved was over the age of 16 at the time of the relationship. For Sludge the penny dropped – so there was a relationship! And the PM knew about it in January! On the positive side at least she was honest about this much. Sludge can imagine a conversation with her predecessor may have been less revealing.
Later Attorney General Margaret Wilson added fuel to the fire.
Wilson concluded her discussion with Kim Hill saying that in her view the actions taken by the Prime Minister, viewed in the light of all the information available to her, were reasonable.
Unfortunately she did not explain why, and as we do not actually know what “all the information” available to the PM consisted of, we may for a time reserve our judgment.
The questions raised by all this concerning the PM's actions are serious. Today they were addressed to Michael Cullen in the house in the PM's absence. So far however the answers are not satisfactory.
In what circumstances is it appropriate for a middle aged Cabinet Minister such as Mr Samuels to have a relationship such as that highlighted in this case? And secondly, knowing about this skeleton in Mr Samuels closet, why was the often troublesome Mr Samuels allowed to remain in Cabinet?
© Sludge 2000