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Former Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman (Photo by Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images)
Former Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman (Photo by Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images)

PoliticsJanuary 16, 2024

‘Really sad it’s gotten to this point’: Green co-leaders on Ghahraman resignation

Former Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman (Photo by Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images)
Former Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman (Photo by Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images)

James Shaw and Marama Davidson have provided further details about the circumstances leading to the resignation of Golriz Ghahraman, who is facing three allegations of shoplifting.


Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson have told media that outgoing MP Golriz Ghahraman, who has quit parliament after a third allegation of shoplifting emerged last night, was subject to “pretty much continuous threats” during her time in parliament.

In a statement earlier today, the MP said her mental health had been “badly affected” by stresses related to her work, which had led her to “act in ways that are completely out of character”.

During a press conference this afternoon, Shaw said: “Obviously parliament is a stressful place for anybody, but Golriz herself has been subject to pretty much continuous threats of sexual violence, physical violence and death threats, and that has added a higher level of stress.

“There have been police investigations into those threats almost the entire time she has been in parliament. If you’re living with that level of threat in what is already quite a stressful situation there are going to be consequences of that. I have a lot of empathy.

“Obviously it’s really sad that it’s gotten to this point.”

Davidson referenced the “particular treatment” that women with public profiles, and women of colour with public profiles in particular, received, and said it was “incumbent on all political parties” to support their MPs.

“The Greens have always taken that seriously, to make sure that there are avenues for MPs feeling that stress to be able to communicate and seek that help.”

In her statement, Ghahraman said, “I am not trying to excuse my actions, but I do want to explain them.

“People should, rightly, expect the highest standards of behaviour from their elected representatives. I fell short. I’m sorry. It’s not a behaviour I can explain because it’s not rational in any way, and after medical evaluation, I understand I’m not well.

“The mental health professional I see says my recent behaviour is consistent with recent events giving rise to extreme stress response, and relating to previously unrecognised trauma.”

Ghahraman said she did not want to “hide behind” her mental health problems and took full responsibility for her actions.

“I have let down a lot of people and I am very sorry,” she said. “The best thing for my mental health is to resign as a member of parliament and to focus on my recovery and to find other ways to work for positive change in the world.”

The allegations against Ghahraman were first reported last week while she was out of the country on a pre-arranged trip, and she stood aside from her portfolios. Later, a second allegation came to light, followed yesterday by a third.

Police have confirmed they began investigating reports of an incident at Scotties Boutique in Ponsonby, Auckland, on December 23, with the Green Party confirming it was made aware of this claim on December 27. Another incident involving Ghahraman at the same store, which was said to have occurred in the weeks prior, was later reported.

Last night, it emerged that Cre8iveworx in Wellington had emailed other businesses in the capital earlier that day about an alleged incident involving Ghahraman on October 26. “A police spokesperson confirmed they received a shoplifting report from Cre8iveworx,” reported Stuff. The spokesperson added that “enquiries into the matter are ongoing”.

During today’s press conference, Shaw and Davidson said they met with Ghahraman when she returned to the country on Saturday. They had learnt of the second allegation of shoplifting at Scotties on January 5, and learnt of the third allegation only yesterday, when it was reported in the media, but had earlier been advised “there might be further allegations”. The pair said Ghahraman’s resignation was her own decision.

When asked why they had not been made aware of the October incident until this week, Shaw said it was due to the police investigation. “We would not expect privileged access to that,” he said.

The Green co-leaders address media on January 16 (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Ghahraman’s resignation takes effect immediately, a move that opens the door for former Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown to move into parliament, as she was next on the Greens’ election list. Wade-Brown has been approached by The Spinoff for comment.

Shaw confirmed he had spoken to Wade-Brown but the details of when she would enter parliament had not yet been confirmed. “We welcome her,” said Davidson. “She’s an amazing and experienced politician and we regret the sad circumstances she’s coming into the big house in.”

Davidson said Ghahraman’s resignation was “a sad day”. “I’m losing a friend and a colleague who I have been close to and have worked with for six years.” She was getting “a lot of support from her colleagues in the Green caucus, and from members and so on,” Shaw added. Ghahraman had been a a “lone voice” on many of her portfolio interests in parliament, said Davidson.

In the earlier statement the co-leaders acknowledged Ghahraman’s “significant” political achievements. “Golriz Ghahraman has been the leading voice in parliament for human rights, truly independent foreign policy, and electoral reform for six years,” they said.

Ghahraman’s statement this afternoon does not specifically admit the allegations of shoplifting made against her, though she thanked Scotties Boutique for “the kindness and empathy they have shown me”. During the press conference, Davidson also thanked Scotties for their “generous communication”.

The outgoing MP said she would not be commenting further. “I now ask for people to give me the space and privacy I need to get better,” she said.

Ghahraman, a former United Nations lawyer, became the country’s first MP from a refugee background after being elected to parliament in 2017. In 2019, Stuff reported that Ghahraman was being accompanied by a security escort following a series of death threats. In recent months, she has been a vocal opponent of the conflict in Gaza.

Other parties in parliament have so far not commented on Ghahraman’s resignation. A Labour spokesperson told The Spinoff that this was “a matter for the Green Party”.

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