The police have finally released the results of their investigation into Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope, concluding that while there is a prima facie case for prosecution, no charges will be laid:
"These alleged events happened more than 22 years ago and the victims were not motivated to lay complaints with Police for many years. If the person at the centre of the inquiry did not have a high current public profile it is unlikely that the matter would have surfaced in the way it has in 2005.
"Given all the circumstances of the inquiry, Mr Benson-Pope is being treated no differently from any other person who might have similar matters raised about them. The case simply does not warrant use of the criminal law," said Superintendent Fraser.
Benson-Pope is naturally pleased, but he shouldn't be; this is a long way from exoneration, and the allegations will continue to cloud his future. While it is not at all unusual for the police not to lay charges over minor incidents, this seems a little more serious (being both an abuse of power and possibly part of a systematic pattern of behaviour) - and people will always be able to attribute the police's refusal to politics rather than general practice (note that there's no implication that a prosecution would fail; they simply can't be bothered). Likewise, absent a clear verdict of "not guilty" in open court, they will be able to continue to call Benson-Pope a child-beating sadist.
Last week I said that if the report came back that the allegations were likely true, but that the passage of time meant that a prosecution was unlikely to succeed, Benson-Pope should resign. I stand by that. Former sadists have no place in our Parliament.