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Has Uffindell been cleared?

Written By: - Date published: 9:12 am, September 19th, 2022 - 98 comments
Categories: law, law and "order", national, same old national - Tags:

Remember the report that National commissioned from Maria Dew QC into the actions of Tauranga MP Sam Uffindel?

It was originally estimated to take two weeks from August 10, 2020.   Then on August 29 a National Party spokesperson said it would take another couple of weeks which expired some time ago.

The expected return date was some time ago.

Last Week Spinoff reported that the Dew report could be some weeks away.

Sam Uffindell, the MP for Tauranga, was stood down more than a month ago after allegations were levelled at him from a former Otago University flat mate. While Uffindell disputed those claims, they followed earlier reporting that revealed had been a violent bully while a student at King’s College.

A review, to be carried out by Maria Dew KC, was ordered by the National Party into Uffindell’s conduct and was initially expected to be completed within a fortnight.

It was subsequently delayed and Christopher Luxon told TVNZ’s Breakfast today he didn’t know when it would be finished.

“There’s no further update,” he said. “It’s really important that the process is followed properly, they were serious allegations. Maria Dew is a qualified King’s Counsel… I want that process to be robust.”

Luxon admitted that it was “frustrating” and said he would have liked the report to be completed by now. The people of Tauranga deserved to know whether their MP would be reinstated, he said.

But there are recent reports that Uffindell has been campaigning locally in Tauranga for National.  Just check out the photo in this post.

And it has just been reported that the Dew report has been received by National and a statement is pending.

It looks like Uffindell has been cleared.  Which is not surprising.  The events happened a long time ago and people should be given the opportunity to rehabilitate.

But the whole event shows National’s hypocrisy.  The next time they talk about being tough on crime or advocate for tough measures be taken against young offenders remember how they thought that one of their own should be treated differently.

98 comments on “Has Uffindell been cleared? ”

  1. mickysavage 1

    And what a day to announce the report. The same day as the Queen's burial. Boy is that cynical.

    • observer 1.1

      "A good day to bury bad news …"

      Especially cynical when it's accompanied by those statements of great respect. So much respect. Florid – and fake.

    • Anne 1.2

      "And what a day to announce the report."

      My immediate thought too. Under the cover of darkness……

    • tsmithfield 1.3

      Yes, the timing of the announcement is "convenient''. In principle though probably no different to what parties have done for years; document dumps on a Friday, or some unpleasant announcement the day before Christmas etc. Just on a grander scale.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    A number of commenters on The Standard as I recall, somewhat cynically said about Mr Uffindel that he represented values–machoism, bullying, misogyny–that many in NZ National deep down felt quite comfortable with.

    “Nothing to see here” will represent NZ Natzos charging on regardless of their motley crew.

  3. Sanctuary 3

    Let's face it, being a passive-aggressive moralising prosperity Evangelical with an ugly history of bullying is a feature not a bug for the National party these days.

    • newsense 4.1

      It shouldn’t be left to Steve Maharey to say this. This is breathtaking moral hypocrisy. ‘Oh not those young offenders!’

  4. Announcement that the report has been 'received by the National Party', and Luxon will be making an announcement later today.


    • Robert Guyton 5.1

      They shouldn't have hit him with wooden!

      "In early August, Stuff revealed that Uffindell, when he was aged 16, joined with three other teenagers in attacking a 13-year-old in the middle of the night. The victim said they arrived in his dorm room and hit him with wooden, leaving him bruised."

      (from Belladonna's link, above)

  5. Peter 6

    Cleared of what? Cleared of what he is said to have done about 20 years ago?

  6. Stuart Munro 7

    Not sure what all the fuss is about frankly – Uffindell seems pretty middle of the road by Gnat standards – crude & stupid, charisma free, habitual bully, without the ghost of a conscience or a clue what public service is.

    This is the hill the Gnats mean to die on, let's give them a decent burial.

    • Mac1 7.1

      There's one fuss which will hopefully be clearer later today.

      I acknowledge that change can happen with young adolescents turning into acceptable adults or otherwise I would be denying my 40 years work as a teacher and facilitator.

      Uffindell has however denied the allegations made about his behaviour at Uni towards flat mates.

      The denial was made, not twenty years ago, but this year.

      If he lied, that would in my book mean he still lacked moral authority.

      What if the report is either unclear on those allegations or does not pronounce him clear of them?

      • Stuart Munro 7.1.1

        I'm sure the Gnats won't care.

        They won't care to further tarnish their alreay sordid reputations by letting the facts out unless it transpires that Uffindell is still a practicing axe-murderer. And the media will let them.

        • Mac1

          I think some care. A National MP rolled his eyes when Uffindell's name got mentioned at a meeting I was attending. I did not know what the news was at the stage and wondered why the eye roll. Was it at the poor publicity or at the allegations? This MP had already justifiably rolled the previous MP for poor performance, and here was yet another one……

          I would hope that you are wrong, Stuart, in saying they don't care, for no other reason that these same National MPs will at some stage get another turn. I'll be working to see that doesn't happen, but they'll get there.

          The wisdom is that governments are voted out rather than the opposition voted in. Labour will apply itself to minimising the negatives and promoting the very considerable achievements made on behalf of all.

          Otherwise, those who you so aptly describe- "crude & stupid, charisma free, habitual bully, without the ghost of a conscience or a clue what public service is"- sneak in.

          • Stuart Munro

            I wish it weren't so – but there is little or no hope for our society if we cannot get more constructive people into parliament.

            I live near the Ohau canals these days and cannot help but think:

            "Look on my works ye mighty, and despair

            – since Roger Douglas we've achieved sweet F-all."

            • Mac1

              Isn't Shelley saying that all political power is ephemeral? Shakespeare wrote in similar vein, as artists who take a longer view do-

              "The scepter, learning, physic, must

              All follow this, and come to dust."

              Like monuments, bodies, rods and orbs all do, as our poets knew and as we have seen recently, in Great Britain.

              The best we do is for now and we need the best people as politicians and leaders to enable us to live our best, now.

              What was left strewn yesterday on The Mall after the procession had passed was horse shit and roses………. for street sweepers to clean up after.

  7. woodart 8

    its obviously taken weeks to get the whitewash thick enough to stick and cover. anybody who has painted over flyshit on a ceiling knows that.

  8. observer 9

    The problem is going to be not so much the decision but (as ever) Luxon talking about it to the media.

    We can write the script in advance:

    Reporter: "What does the report say about what Uffindell has done?"

    Luxon: "Oh look, that's confidential, what I'm saying to you is, we front up and we move on …"

    Reporter: "But you're not fronting up, you're not telling us anything."

    Luxon: "Look, let me be clear, what I'm saying to you is …"

    (repeat indefinitely while eyes roll)

  9. tsmithfield 10

    At the very worst, all Unfindell probably needs is some leadership training.

    Very hard for Labour to make much hay out of this, when it appears they are having their own issues with allegations of current bullying. Glass houses and all that…

    • observer 10.1

      Labour didn't make any hay, then or now. Check the reporting of Uffindell, from day one. Ardern quite explicit: not Labour's issue.

      Contrast Chris Bishop et al piling in on Sharma's side … and then rapidly retreating once it became clear he wasn't an ally they wanted. Oops.

      “Glass houses” is correct.

      • tsmithfield 10.1.1

        From a strategic point of view it probably made sense for National to amplify Labour's bullying allegations as much as possible due to the Ufindell issue still being in play. The idea being to demonstrate that bullying isn't something isolated to National, historic or otherwise, thus minimising Ufindell's own history.

      • Chris 10.1.2

        The hay they'll be able to make will be whenever national bellows its tough of youth crime line.

    • Incognito 10.2

      This is not a Labour Party or Government issue. It is a problem for, with, and by the National Party. Uffindell was selected and then more dirt rose to the surface, predictably, and the National Party went into panic mode (aka damage control) by hiring a QC and stalling for time, as usual (aka textbook response). The problem hasn’t gone away, only the latest dirt got swept under that bulging carpet under now Luxon’s feet. When you see the National Leader swaggering it is because there’s so much dirt buried under his carpet that he can’t walk or sit straight. There was even a book written about it and it was not for carpet cleaners.

      Your diversion troll tactics are going to fail (you) today.

      • tsmithfield 10.2.1

        National isn't the only party that has kicked for touch by sending an uncomfortable issue for legal review, I think you will find. So, just good strategy there.

        Just looking at how this has been played, rather than who is right or wrong, it seems to me that National has managed to reframe this as "a plague on both your houses" over the time of the review. So, that is the context the outcome will be viewed in.

        My personal view is that there needs to be a point where current behaviour outshines past transgressions. I have selected people for jobs on that basis, even though in a past life they may have had some serious issues. It all comes down to how historic the behaviour was, and how much, and how permanently the person has reformed in the meantime.

        • Incognito

          National can play its whataboutery tactics and you can think it is good strategy. However, it is not smart to apply the same diversion troll tactics here on TS, as you did. Stick to commenting on the OP, thanks.

          National Party strategy/policy against youth crime could do with some dose of your practical wisdom on people and past transgressions. That nuance and understanding seems to be lacking with National and I can’t see this improving, can you?

          • tsmithfield

            I am thinking strategy in an objective sense. If Labour did similar if the boot was on the other foot, I would still think it is an effective strategy, not necessarily “good” in a moral sense.

            Personally, I think a failure of the right is a bit of a knee jerk reaction towards crime. Being on the board of a trust that works in one of the lowest socio-economical areas of Christchurch has certainly impacted my views in that respect. None of these problems are as simple as "lock them up and throw away the key."

          • Tricledrown

            This shows if you are wealthy and break the law, no consequences if you are homeless and can’t afford a QC/KC you face a lifetime of consequences.National the Natural home of Bullies!

        • Craig H

          Not sure how that's kicking for touch. If someone is accused of unpleasant conduct which will have a potential impact on their employment and membership of a group, those accusations have to be investigated fairly. Appointing independent investigators happens all the time for bullying and other claims in employment – why and how would we expect National or Labour or any other political party to be different?

  10. AB 11

    He'll be in the clear unless something new and much more damaging has emerged. Last thing the Nats want is a drip-feed of new Uffindell victims popping out of the wooodwork.

    The process of clearing him will include "a review of our candidate selection policies" and "ensuring that our mentoring processes for new MPs are as robust as we believe them to be". Or some such guff. It's bollocks of course – character affects the political ideologies we are all attracted to and it can't be changed. (i.e. what Stuart said at 7 above)

    • tsmithfield 11.1

      A lot of it will come down to what he disclosed at the time of selection. I don't think any of us have full knowledge of that. But, if he has given adequate disclosure, and has been accepted on that basis, then the selection committee should take it on the chin if they got it wrong.

  11. kejo 12

    According to the photo National are least concerned about employment ,housing, and the environment

    • Muttonbird 12.1

      Social media meme right there. Do a big red/green arrow between the rosette and the four lonely blue dots next to Environment.

      "This is what National thinks of the environment."

    • woodart 13.1

      well, this is a surprise..not. but smart people will instantly see that this is a huuuge tactical blunder by the nats, as they have just let off a long term grenade in their tent. they now either have to swallow their tongues over reformed youth crime, or swallow their pride over bullying in the better (in)bred . either way he's a lame duck. if the lower classes had kept their mouths shut, this whole mess wouldnt have rattled the bone china.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 13.2

      And, the answer appears, unsurprisingly, to be "Yes"

      Belladonna, why "unsurprisingly“, in your opinion?

      • Belladonna 13.2.1

        Political management, mostly.

        I think, that if Luxon had had an inkling that the answer was 'no' (i.e. there had been lots more skeletons found in the closet by the QC), that Uffindell would have already 'resigned' to 'pursue other challenges' for the 'good of the Party'

        Announcing a result in the way it has been done pretty much presupposes that it's not a negative result (or at least not negative from the National perspective) Certainly all of the media signalling has not been 'blood in the water' go in for the kill – and they do get things leaked to them (not for attribution, of course)

        • Drowsy M. Kram

          I think, that if Luxon had had an inkling that the answer was 'no' (i.e. there had been lots more skeletons found in the closet by the QC), that Uffindell would have already 'resigned' to 'pursue other challenges' for the 'good of the Party'

          Does that mean you think Luxon had an inkling that the answer was 'yes', prior to the completion of Maria Dew KC's report?

          Was heartening to hear that Luxon believes "in forgiveness and second chances" –
          "Be kind" smiley

          • Belladonna

            No. I mean exactly what I said.

            I'm quite certain that Luxon (and/or the senior National Party team) were kept briefed under a 'no surprises' policy of any significant findings. [Just, as I'm equally certain that the Labour senior team were kept briefed about other inquiries relevant to Labour]

            There was no inkling that the answer was 'no' at any point.

            • Drowsy M. Kram

              I'm quite certain that Luxon (and/or the senior National Party team) were kept briefed under a 'no surprises' policy of any significant findings.

              Could you provide more info about this "'no surprises' policy' that you are "quite certain" ensured Luxon was "kept briefed" "of any significant findings" of Maria Dew KC's independent (and unexpectedly protracted) investigation?

              There was no inkling that the answer was 'no' at any point.

              Do you mean that Luxon had "no inkling that the answer was 'no' [i.e. that there are more skeletons in Uffindell's closet] at any point" (of the enquiry)?

              What might cause you, a self-declared "respectful centrist", to believe that Luxon had this “no inkling“? Surely it would have been prudent to keep an open mind prior to the (delayed) completion of the KC's independent report.

              • Really no point in discussing further.

                I gave an opinion. I don't have anything else to add.

                • Drowsy M. Kram

                  I gave an opinion. I don't have anything else to add.

                  Agreed, you gave an opinion – I’m just trying to make sense of it.

                  If you’re reluctant and/or unable to provide more info about the "'no surprises' policy' that you are "quite certain" ensured Luxon was "kept briefed" "of any significant findings" of Dew's protracted independent investigation, then I quite understand.

                  • I shall do better next time. And refrain from responding to you.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      I shall do better next time.

                      Maybe you will, and maybe Uffindell's OK – we can all do better!

                      And refrain from responding to you.

                      Ah, the ol' "no comment" gambit – you're doing 'better' already smiley

                      Luxon not keen on Uffindell report seeing light of day
                      After refusing to release any details of an investigation into National MP Sam Uffindell, it seems Christopher Luxon would rather deal with a negative news cycle than throw sunlight on the reports’ findings.

                      It is almost impossible to form a view on whether National leader Christopher Luxon made the right call reinstating Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell back into his caucus.

                      While the independent report conducted by KC Maria Dew over the last five weeks concluded Uffindell “did not engage in the serious behaviour alleged in the media”, it is impossible to know what other behaviour may or may not have been raised during the investigation.

                      If the National Party truly believes Tauranga voters should have known about Uffindell’s past before casting their votes in June, then surely logic follows that they deserve to know why his name has now been cleared by the party.

            • Incognito


              Asked whether he’d been given a new finish date, Luxon said he had not been in contact with Maria Dew so as to ensure the process was “truly independent”.


  12. observer 14

    No surprise there.

    Luxon always says "as the father of a daughter". He seems to think it sounds persuasive and relatable. I don't think he even understands how badly it comes across.

    He has just told "the father of a daughter" that his daughter's experience didn't happen.

  13. Re-run of Winston peters and I am happy being the MP for Tauranga. Not very impressed with Luxon not responding to whoever it was calling out to get a question in.

    Impressed, not in a good way though, by how like Muldoon Luxon is in mannerism and looks.

    Don't know what I think about the CE of the National Party, slick, smooth and hiding things.

    The less than stellar Nat candidate selection processes put this into the public arena…..people who should have known about Uffindell's declaration did not seem to. The comment I made earlier that in Luxon's office there seem to be a dearth of people who are encouraged to speak about the look or perception, still stands. perhaps that is not encouraged.

    Intrigued by the words ‘serious behaviour’…….the usual phrase is ‘serious misbehaviour’. Spin is evident.

    Uffindell does seem to lack judgement – having to reflect publicly on holding up a rosette before the report was in. I don't feel he would be judged as a safe pair of hands for the future.

  14. newsense 16

    Given there hypocrisy over this the party and MP deserve to be hounded. This is much worse than anything Winston Peters has done, yet look at his treatment.

    There are two issues: one is the behavior, but the most important seen here is the way at all steps in the process from the school to the selection to this report it has been covered for without genuine remorse, without genuine self awareness, without genuine desire to provide information to voters, be they public or party, and again to hide the report and rehabilitate once more with no public acknowledgment of the problem or any genuine hope that the party has heard or improved.

    If this is left by the media they are complicit in an elitist bullying culture and a racist forgiveness culture in which money buys prospects and outcomes at the time of reckoning.

    If they hear another National MP claptrap about families not having values and let it lie they are complicit in low standards and these transgressions. They fail poor youngsters at a time when across the country youth crime is down and the ‘tough on crime’ dog whistle is harmful and risks reversing great progress.

    Don’t let them get away with it. Culture review 2.0. Nothing to see.

  15. Tiger Mountain 17

    Nothing to see here! Uffindel Report to remain private, Selection Panel workings to remain confidential, staff member under the bus for not telling Mr Luxon, and Party President did not inform Mr Luxon either, about Mr Uffindel’s Candidate declaration about assaulting an individual with a group when at school.

    Which is a little mystifying given that we are told Sam Uffindel mentioned the assault in his declaration, others are then fingered for not passing this on, including Todd McClay, to what would be considered the appropriate people, and then nothing more from the selection process is to be known by the public.

    Nothing to see here!

  16. mary_a 18

    Luxon has reinstated Sam Uffindell.

    According to Luxon and the National President (can't remembet her name), there is not enough evidence to prove aggressive behaviour from him continued after high school, or during his uni days, despite claims to the contrary!

    The report will NOT be made public. Wonder why? I can smell the whitewash!

    Yet Uffindell did not apologise for his brutal behaviour until 20 years later. Obviously hoping it would be swept away into his dark past. A hint of deception? We will wait and see how he responds, when things don't go his way in politics.

    • Johnr 18.1

      Well knock me down with a feather. Why am I not surprised.

      What I find curious is that no discussion has surrounded the fact that Duffus was expelled and the other 3 participants were suspended. Which says to me that Duffus was the ring leader.

      Do the Natzos consider this a sign of leadership qualities.

  17. I don't understand why Luxon had to dismiss a question about the Nat response to youth crime by saying the issue of Uffindell and the issue of youth crime were being conflated.

    The question was exactly on point.

    It could have given rise to a welcome rejigging and reflection.

    The point is that when Uffindell offended he and his family had options and these options were open to him because his family had money. Money gives access to options. What do we do about young ones who offend who don't have those options? In Natland we obviously just throw them away.

    I cannot help but think that had the Nat 'lawgiver' Ralph Hanan been around he would have been able to work something in about youth crime that did not yield to this black and white view that is around now in the Nats.


  18. Muttonbird 20

    Luxo woulda got Jon Keys on the phone pronto. Find out what to do. Keysey woulda said, stare ‘em down and laugh in their faces.

  19. tsmithfield 21

    Fair result. People wanting to join any party should not be excluded on the basis of what they did when they were young and stupid, unless they are still young and stupid.

    And, it is rare for these types of reports to be released publicly. So no surprise that it wasn't. Amongst other things, there are considerations of privacy for those who have complained for a start.

    I can think of a number of high profile reports from both sides of the house that haven't been released. There is one particularly high profile report from a couple of years ago that wasn't released that I won't mention, in case it is viewed as trolling.

  20. Kat 22

    There is a general election in twelve months, lets see how the voters in blue rinse Tauranga respond, Uffindell could even increase his majority.

    • Bearded Git 22.1

      Kat-the election has to be held by 13 January 2024, so it could be as long as 16 months away, though more likely 15 months.

      • Belladonna 22.1.1

        While it's true, that it has to be held before then, it would be a truly extraordinary set of circumstances which would cause the Government to set an election date for December or January. September and October are the traditional months (absent snap elections, which we need not consider) – although Ardern might extend to November (which also has precedent – though not recently). As we're now in September, we're most probably 12, maybe 13 months out.

        • Muttonbird

          Getting a few more weeks of spring weather in before the election date would be an advantage for the the governing Labour Party.

        • Kat

          Barring natural earthly events out of human control Jacinda is bound to play it by the book with regards election date. Barring usual events of right wing grubby politics and media sycophancy Jacinda should remain the PM, whenever the exact election date.

          Hopefully Labour are prepared for the lies, disinformation, devious and relentless mud slinging to come………

        • Bearded Git

          What is wrong with an election in early December? That is 14.5 months away.

  21. Muttonbird 23

    Good to see Grant keep the message clear that the National Party are disrespectful and cynical. It's important to re-enforce this whenever they try pull a fast one.

    • Alan 23.1

      Great to see that labour is all in for co-governance etc. but “forgot” to mention that during the election campaign , transparent as mud.
      Fast one doesn’t even begin to describe it.

      • Shanreagh 23.1.1

        Warning: includes/sarc later in the post. .

        Not sure why co-governance is mentioned in the Uffindell thread. Perhaps 23.1 and my response 23.1.1 should go to OM

        Co-governance as a concept and reality has been around for many years starting in earnest in modern times with various treaty settlements where land was handed back to Maori, then handed over to a new body to administer with Maori having a place on the administering bodies, challenges by the NZ Maori Council to some of the actions proposed by various neo-lib govts in the 1980s/90s. It has also been implemented in the Maori ward concepts in local govts.

        Even before many Treaty settlements Maori co governance had been a fact in say some of the administration of areas such as National Parks, then region-wide National Parks and Reserves Boards.

        So just because you had not heard of co governance did not mean it was not happening. As it was already happening and had been for many years in some cases one could ask why it needed to be something mentioned in an election manifesto?

        Now if you had said the Three Waters concept and the bringing of this back under closer scrutiny by central govt had possibly not been explicitly mentioned then I might have agreed with you. Though some of the water and sewage woes that seemed to be compounding (Havelock North, Wellington, ageing infrastructure and poor water quality readings in many local auth water supplies) would have meant, to an astute or big picture observer, that something had to be done.

        But no……you are happy to be thought to be lacking in knowledge and dog-whistle to cover it.

        Funny you should mention mud as we are coming up for the yearly edition of that long running Southland saga called 'Mud Farming' where we see breath taking shots of cows up to their knees in mud and eating baleage or winter crops etc as well as heart breaking shots of the same cows giving birth to calves also while knee deep in mud. That is the kind of mud we should ban rather than fretting about some thing like co-governance that has been with us in various forms for many years.

        Rushes outside, its dark but I can see that the sky has not fallen even though we have had forms of co-governance.

    • Finn McCool 23.2

      Grant should have kept his mouth shut. If you can't understand why, you will when we lose the election.

  22. joe90 24

  23. This does not show the KC in a very good light

    • Shanreagh 25.1

      Probably had the tightest brief you could imagine together with the most rigid definition of 'bullying' and what constituted concerning events It must have been rigid if it could dismiss a person saying that they were scared/frightened/concerned when there were loud voices and bashing of doors in a flat so bad they had to lock the door, get out the window, ring the parent and never go back to the flat again.

      There will have been to-ing and fro-ing I am picking between legal people in Nats and the KC. The KC would need to be able to satisfy themselves they could investigate against the brief as written. Then there is the discussions after a draft was put forward, some would even discuss prior to a draft even being written to alert those who paid for the investigation that this was the thinking.

      That they have been able to dismiss the Otago flat incident points to an investigation that had a tight definition of bullying possibly involving violence, then asked someone to see if other later events matched this. Of course they would not, they only showed an out of control person doing scary things.

      Of course the failure and the sad thing for Uffindell and him being the fall guy, despite the report, is that the blame for the shock, horror lies elsewhere in the Nats with those who did not alert those who needed to know of what Uffindell had said and the implications it might have had.

      What amazes me, and I am all for giving a person a second go is that Uffindell, even with these possible character flaws or things to give selectors 'pause' was still found to be the best of the four runners for the position. What were the others like? Perhaps their skeletons were worse though this is hard to imagine.

  24. OK… Scottish decision. "Not Proven "… He will be closely watched by his own and us

  25. Sacha 28

    Also this nice bit of radio

  26. observer 29

    Everything you need to know about National in one perfect sentence:

    Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said Maria Dew’s report had “vindicated” Uffindell, but he said he hadn’t seen her report or its executive summary.


    • Sacha 29.1

      Trust me.

      Although Dew has not responded to questions about her investigation, Luxon said she was comfortable with the way his party was portraying it.

      “All the statements that Sylvia, myself and Sam read out yesterday were actually all run through Maria Dew as well. They were a faithful representation, and she was comfortable we were communicating the findings of her report,” he said.

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