He may just be horsing around, but for the object of his boyish prank, it’s plain harassment.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has apologized to a waitress at an Auckland cafe for repeatedly pulling her hair, BBC News reported.
The woman wrote in a blog that he had tugged her ponytail on several occasions, even after she had asked him to stop doing so.
“His actions were intended to be light-hearted,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement on Wednesday. “It was never his intention to make her feel uncomfortable and he has apologized to her.”
The incident has sparked criticism from an opposition party and the public, the broadcaster said.
The waitress wrote on the Daily Blog that the hair-pulling started after Key’s National Party was re-elected last November.
She said she had begun avoiding him whenever he came into the cafe, and had told his security detail that she didn’t like her hair being pulled.
But Key continued to do so, even after she was able to summon the courage to tell him in person in March that she didn’t like what he was doing.
The prime minister later apologized and gave the waitress two personalized bottles of wine, the report said.
Speaking to reporters at Los Angeles airport on his way to Turkey, Key again apologized and said he had “a very warm and friendly relationship” with the cafe staff, adding that “we have lots of fun and games there, there’s always lots of practical jokes and things”.
Metiria Turei, a leader of the opposition Green Party, said Key’s actions amounted to bullying.
“As politicians our job is to make people feel safe at work, not bullied… We should expect higher standards of behavior from our prime minister, not this weird hair-pulling,” she told The New Zealand Herald.
Twitter was abuzz with Key’s hair-pulling saga with netizens using the hashtags #tailgate. and #ponytailgate.
The waitress wasn’t the only one. Watch Prime Minister John Key pull a little girl’s ponytail on YouTube:
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