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Benson-Pope changes his story

Judith Collins MP National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

06 December 2005

Benson-Pope changes his story

National Party Welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins says David Benson-Pope has changed his story on historical assault allegations which he earlier refuted and said were ridiculous.

"This Minister just can't get his story straight. Today in Parliament he's taken a much softer line, saying he does not recall the incidents. That's a long way from his earlier flat denials." Mr Benson Pope has also confirmed today that he authorised his staff member to 'brief' the Sunday Herald on the police report.

"This is from a Minister who had earlier said it was for the police to release the report. His response today completely contradicts the Prime Minister and Mr Benson-Pope's earlier answers.

"Neither the Prime Minister nor Mr Benson Pope can seriously expect the public to accept his claim that he had no knowledge about the way his office attempted to deliberately mislead the media and the public.

"The union movement must be appalled that both the Prime Minister and Mr Benson-Pope are now prepared to lay blame at the feet of a staff member for the selective release of material contained in the police report. Clearly only one person stood to gain from that course of action.

"This is a trusted member of Mr Benson-Pope's inner circle. It beggars belief that the Minister did not know about the plan to release parts of the report to the media.

"Mr Benson-Pope must now tell the public what instructions he gave to the staff member ahead of the special briefing and whether he was aware of the selective quoting from the report.

"If he really was unhappy with the leak why did he not clear the air until after the National Party raised the alarm on Sunday?

"And why, after being made aware of the leak, did Mr Benson Pope then defend the action by saying 'now that the investigation had concluded he does not feel constrained talking about the case'?

"I find it reprehensible that Mr Benson-Pope is prepared to lay blame for this deliberate attempt to mislead the public at the feet of staff. He is a lame duck Minister, who refuses to front up in public and answer questions from the media.

"He should resign," says Ms Collins.

ENDS


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