Golriz Ghahraman
Golriz Ghahraman – New Zealand politician. Image/Richard Myburgh, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

New Zealand's Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman has been forced to resign from parliament after several reports emerged, accusing her of shoplifting things on at least three occasions.

The allegations came to light after CCTV footage of the MP stealing things from high-end stores in Auckland and Wellington became public. The MP later issued a statement addressing the issue, saying mental health issues and work-related stress caused her to behave in such a manner.

"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," her statement said.

She further added that "the best thing for my mental health is to resign as a member of parliament, to focus on my recovery, and to find other ways to work for positive change in the world".

"With that in mind, I don't want to hide behind my mental health problems, and I take full responsibility for my actions which I deeply regret," she said.

The first accusations came to light on January 10 after a local news radio station, Newstalk ZB, published a report accusing the 43-year-old of shoplifting.

She was accused of shoplifting at Scotties Boutique in Ponsonby, Auckland, and Cre8iveworkz in Wellington. The incident at Cre8iveworx reportedly took place in October last year. The police have said that the investigation into the matter is still underway. However, they did not confirm the incident involved Ghahraman.

The police are also currently investigating one more shoplifting allegation against Ghahraman. The incident took place at a store in December.

The Green Party co-leaders have supported her decision to resign. Her colleague James Shaw said that Ghahraman has been at the receiving end of abuse from the public since she joined the office, including threats of sexual and physical violence and death threats.

"If you're living with that level of threat in what is already quite a stressful situation, then there are going to be consequences," Shaw said. Ghahraman was even provided with a security escort after she received several death threats in 2019.

The MP, who hails from Iran, made history by becoming the first refugee to be elected to parliament in New Zealand in 2017. She had sought asylum in New Zealand after the Iran-Iraq war. She had worked as a criminal defence and human rights lawyer before venturing into politics.