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Labour MP made promise not to criticise

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/02/2017

Labour MP Poto Williams was made to promise she would not publicly speak out against Willie Jackson as a party candidate but did so anyway, party leader Andrew Little says.

Ms Williams, who is Labour's family and sexual violence spokeswoman, took to Facebook just hours after Mr Jackson was revealed as a list candidate to express her concern about his selection.

Mr Little said on Tuesday he had sought assurances from Ms Williams before the post that she would not comment publicly, and there had been confidential discussions with her since she went back on that.

In a post on her Facebook page Ms Williams called on Mr Jackson to apologise for comments he made on talkback radio during the 2013 Roast Busters scandal, when he described the behaviour of a group of young men actively seeking out drunk, underage girls for sex as "mischief".

"Until then, as someone who speaks for the victims of family and sexual violence, and as a survivor of such abuse, I can not in good conscience support him as my colleague," she said.

Mr Jackson did apologise at the time, and again in the wake of Ms Williams' public statement.

The pair have since met to discuss the issue, and Ms Williams released a statement through the party saying she had accepted his apology.

Mr Little would not reveal whether Ms Williams had been reprimanded for her statement, or comment on the nature of discussions he had with her other than to say "I think every caucus member is absolutely aware of the expectations on them".

"The great thing about Labour MPs is they are very passionate about the causes they believe in and people will say and do things sometimes that later they wish they hadn't," he said.

Ms Williams has not removed her original statement from her Facebook page.

Mr Little would not say whether he had sought similar assurances from other MPs about the selection of former Police Association president Greg O'Connor for Ohariu.

"I've had a lot of conversations with a lot of people, including a lot of party members, over the last week or two weeks and people are very happy," he said.

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