Key knew of sex claims, says Goff

Prime Minister John Key was aware of rumours about his former Internal Affairs Minister Richard Worth before he was alerted to more serious allegations, says Labour leader Phil Goff.

Dr Worth was forced to resign as a minister on Tuesday and is under investigation by police over claims of "a sexual nature" following a complaint by a Korean businesswoman.

There are also questions over claims by a second woman alleging harassment by Dr Worth last year.

But Mr Key has refused to meet the woman till she hands over text messages to his chief of staff. Earlier yesterday, Mr Key made it clear that written evidence supporting the woman's claims would be enough to expel Dr Worth from the National caucus and said he would clear his schedule so the meeting could go ahead.

But after a day of tense negotiations over the meeting, Mr Key questioned why the woman would refuse to hand over evidence to his staff. "The issue here is the complainant has said there were lurid and inappropriate text messages. It's a very simple thing to clear that matter up."

It appears that the woman, a Labour Party member, has destroyed some of the texts sent to her by Dr Worth, though she still has most of them. She alleges he bombarded her with more than 100 text messages and phone calls over three months.

She says Dr Worth, who also offered her government appointments, made "vulgar and sexually explicit" suggestions in some calls.

Mr Goff took the claims to Mr Key in May, several months after he was approached by the woman, but the matter was not pursued after Dr Worth denied the allegations and threatened to sue.

Mr Goff said yesterday it was clear during his discussions with Mr Key that he was aware of "prior rumours circulating about different cases". He questioned Mr Key's refusal to meet the woman, who he said wanted a chance to put her case after feeling her credibility was at stake.

The Dominion Post