Golriz Ghahraman: New Zealand MP resigns following shoplifting allegations

Source: BBC

A New Zealand MP has resigned following multiple allegations of shoplifting, which police are investigating. 

Golriz Ghahraman, of the Green Party, is alleged to have stolen three times from two clothing stores – one in Auckland and the other in Wellington. 

Ms Ghahraman said stress relating to her work led her to “act in ways that are completely out of character”.

“I have let down a lot of people and I am very sorry,” she added. 

The former United Nations human rights lawyer made history in 2017 by becoming the first refugee to be sworn into the New Zealand government. She once held the party’s justice portfolio, 

She fled Iran as a child with her family, who were all granted political asylum in New Zealand. 

Ms Ghahraman’s resignation on Tuesday comes after CCTV footage emerged showing her allegedly taking a designer handbag from an Auckland boutique. 

The 42-year-old, who has not been charged with any crime, said in a statement her actions had “fallen short” of the high standards of behaviour the public expect from elected representatives.

“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,” she said, adding that she did not want to make excuses for herself.

“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.”

Responding to her resignation, Green Party co-leader James Shaw said that Ms Ghahraman had been subject to “pretty much continuous threats of sexual violence, physical violence, death threats since the day she was elected to Parliament”.

“That has added a higher level of stress than is experienced by most members of parliament,” he said.

“There have been police investigations into those threats almost the entire time that she has been a member of parliament, and so obviously if you’re living with that level of threat in what is already quite a stressful situation then there are going to be consequences for that”. 

Fellow Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said it was right that Ms Ghahraman resigned but that it was clear she was in distress and would continue to receive their support. 

“We have seen the conversation over the past years, especially over the particular treatment of women with public profiles, and in addition, the particular treatment of women of colour with public profiles,” said Ms Davidson. 

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