Dr Richard Worth: Entrapment?
On the basis of information currently available to the public, I disapprove of Dr Worth’s behaviour concerning Neelam Choudary but only because it appears he disrespected the sanctity of marriage, both his own and that of Mrs Choudary.
There have been several criticisms of Dr Worth during his political career, but before jumping to judgement it may be important to consider his side of those stories and his impressive naval, diplomatic, professional and charitable service for which he was appointed an Officer of the British Empire and was made a knight in the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem. I have no wish to defend Dr Worth per se but there are many aspects to this story of relevance to men in general.
The allegations by the Indian woman against Dr Worth were shrouded in secrecy concerning the accuser and all details. Where did the expectation come from that it’s ok to make damaging accusations from a position of anonymity? Perhaps from debate and changes concerning sexual offence trials that have eroded many longstanding protections against false conviction of men, one of which was the principle that an accused has the right to face the accuser. Although we finally know who Dr Worth’s accuser is, she continues to restrict the release of information perhaps to ensure that any facts that might contradict her portrayal of the story are withheld.
We now understand that Neelam Choudary met Dr Worth during last year’s election campaign and he later invited her to meet him at a cafÃ©. She talked to Phil Goff about this first and Mr Goff said it would be ok to go if she took someone with her. We don’t know what Mrs Choudary’s concerns were about the meeting or why Mr Goff thought it necessary to take someone with her. But it seems reasonable to assume that both Mrs Choudary and Mr Goff were aware of the possibility that Dr Worth had romantic intentions. So she took her husband along, but left him in the car in a car park and went in to meet with Dr Worth by herself.
Why did she choose to do that? What was the point of her husband waiting in a nearby car park? If she wanted to make it clear to Dr Worth that she was not romantically available, taking her husband in at least briefly to introduce him to Worth would have been a good start. We don’t know whether Mrs Choudary mentioned her husband was there or that she had a husband at all. We don’t know how Mrs Choudary presented herself or responded to what must have been evidence that Dr Worth was sexually interested in her. We now do understand that within two weeks Dr Worth was texting her while she was in India as though she were a close friend with romantic implications.
We don’t know how Mrs Choudary replied to Dr Worth’s texts except for Mr Goff’s unevidenced claim that she “made it clear” she did not want to engage in a sexual relationship. However, Dr Worth’s texts and phone calls continued for three months. She claims she went to Mr Goff because she wanted the contact from Dr Worth to stop. Why didn’t she simply tell Dr Worth she wanted him to stop? Mr Goff claimed that he did not ask her for the content of her text replies because he did not want to invade her privacy, but surely the exact content of her replies was the single most important piece of evidence necessary before judging Dr Worth’s communications as unwelcome harassment. Otherwise, any expression by a man of romantic interest towards a woman would be too dangerous to contemplate. That is in fact the underlying assumption conveyed by Mr Goff and most media in the Worth case; that men, or at least men of high status, can be judged as harassers or sexual predators simply through expressing sexual attraction towards a woman regardless of her part in the process.
Mr Goff claimed that there were numerous texts and emails of a highly objectionable nature, although the few he initially quoted didn’t really seem so bad and would hardly be considered objectionable between romantic friends. But it turned out that even those few mildly racy texts don’t exist and neither do any relevant emails. Mr Goff’s quotes turned out to be only hearsay because Mrs Choudary claims she erased those texts. That does not seem credible. Other texts that were finally placed in the public domain seemed simply friendly and innocent. Why would she keep some of his texts but not others? From the outset she consulted Mr Goff about the relationship and she specifically took her husband to the first date, and all three must have been aware that any impropriety by Dr Worth could later be used politically.
The entire case depends upon the truthfulness of Mrs Choudary’s claims that already have not been supported by the evidence provided to date. We now learn that her husband was recently convicted of fraud through charging immigrants for finding fictitious jobs for them. At least one of those immigrants recounts that he gave his money, $thousands, to both Mr and Mrs Choudary who as a couple falsely told him about a job they had arranged for him. Although the police did not implicate Mrs Choudary, she no doubt benefited from the profits and it’s difficult to imagine she had no idea about the fraud.
We also learn that Mrs Choudary stood as a candidate for Labour in the 2008 election. This did not accord with Mr Goff’s portrayal of her as a recent Indian immigrant who was so naÃ¯ve about NZ culture and language and therefore about Dr Worth’s intentions that she had to ask her husband what was meant by “xxx” after one of Dr Worth’s texts.
Can we then trust Mrs Choudary’ claims that she was “offered” jobs by Dr Worth? Neither Mr Goff nor Mrs Choudary specifically claimed that those “offers” were made in any way conditional upon sexual favours or romantic involvement, but our media and the public appear to have assumed this was so. She has only said that he told her she would have to leave Labour and join National in order to obtain those jobs. How did the topic of jobs come up in their conversation? If she was offered good jobs, why did she not accept one? Could it be that Dr Worth simply made suggestions about jobs that might suit her and that she could apply for?
Dr Worth’s morality is being called into question, but I question the morality of using a man’s romantic gestures, friendly communications and attempts to offer kind advice against him.
Mrs Choudary said that she felt uncomfortable about Mr’s texts. Does that mean he has done wrong? Since when do we have legal protection against feeling uncomfortable? However, that principle has crept into public belief and law. Recent concepts of “human rights” have encouraged religious zealots to expect legal protection against feeling offended by anyone who questions their beliefs or mentions their particular deity in the wrong way. The Domestic Violence Act allows claimed subjective feelings (in practice only for women) to justify putting a man out on the street and largely out of his children’s lives.
In my opinion, the correct Worth story is most likely to go like this: Mrs Choudary met Dr Worth, was invited to a cafÃ© and immediately recognized the potential political mileage she could get from allowing him to attempt to seduce her over a period of time. She discussed this with Mr Goff and later reported what dirt she had accumulated against Dr Worth, whereupon Mr Goff kept this information for an opportune time to do some damage to the new government. Mr Goff and Mrs Choudary knew there was not much real evidence so they provided a somewhat exaggerated and dishonest portrayal behind the shroud of her anonymity, and drew out the release of information as long as possible. That’s politics, assisted in this case by feminist ideology that has promoted a view of most men as unwholesome and exploitative.