National MP Uffindell cleared of bullying allegations, returns to Caucus

Tauranga MP (National) Sam Uffindell (Photo from National Party Website)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, September 19, 2022

An independent investigation instituted by the National Party has found that many of the bullying charges against Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell were unsubstantiated and as such cleared him of the allegations.

Following the Report from King’s Counsel Maria Dew and a discussion held between Party Leader Christopher Luxon and Party President Sylvia Wood, the National Party Caucus re-admitted Mr Uffindell to its membership at its meeting this morning.

Mr Luxon said that the investigation found that Mr Uffindell did not engage in the serious behaviour alleged in the media.

Woman’s claim

Mr Uffindell was stood down from the Caucus on August 9, 2022,  after a woman made allegations about him when they shared a student flat with four others in Otago in 2003.

Mr Uffindell had strongly denied the incident that his flatmate described.

The National Party appointed Ms Dew to conduct an independent investigation into the woman’s claim, which followed Mr Uffindell’s admission of bullying at high school. The investigation also provided a safe and confidential environment for anyone else to come forward with information or further allegations.

Fourteen people were interviewed during the investigation, and a number of written statements were provided. Mr Luxon said that he and National Party President Sylvia Wood received Ms Dew’s report late on Thursday night.

“On behalf of the Party, I want to thank Ms Dew for her diligent, professional and impartial work, and also thank all those who participated as complainants, witnesses and referees. Consistent with confidentiality undertakings given, the report will not be made public,” he said.

Unsubstantiated claims

A National Party press note said that Ms Dew’s thorough investigation did not substantiate any allegations of bullying outside Mr Uffindell’s time at King’s College.

It said that there were differing views of what occurred during the alleged Otago University flat incident and that Ms Dew concluded that the event was not as it was described in the media.

But she said that despite this conclusion, it was clear that the complainant’s experience in a deteriorating flat relationship caused her harm.

Aside from his time at King’s College, and interactions with his flatmate at university, no one else came forward who considered themselves a victim of Mr Uffindell’s behaviour.

Mr Luxon said that the investigation has found that there were differing accounts of an incident that happened 20 years ago in the context of a student flat that was breaking up.

“Mr Uffindell has acknowledged that things were said that he now realises that his flatmate overheard, which he regrets. He has also publicly acknowledged that he was a bully at King’s College and that this behaviour harmed a number of people, for which he has apologised. With the known matters having now been independently considered, and with Mr Uffindell’s own acknowledgement that he is a different person now to the person he once was, we are now able to move forward,” he said.

Mr Luxon said that the Tauranga MP is looking forward to working hard for the people of his constituency and that he was confident that he can and will do so.

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