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Key govt turn backs on police sex victims

Written By: - Date published: 5:38 am, August 11th, 2010 - 44 comments
Categories: crime, human rights, law and "order", national, scoundrels, sexism - Tags:

It just gets worse:

“The Government has rejected a secret forum’s recommendation that 10 women who alleged sexual misconduct by police officers get reparation.

A letter obtained by The Dominion Post reveals the forum chairwoman, Wellington lawyer Rachael Brown, recommended that the Government pay “financial redress” for alleged misconduct by police officers.”

So, the government appointed a forum to decide whether its agents had abused the powers it gave them and whether it should compensate the victims. The forum concluded they had and it should. And what did the Key government do?

“the Cabinet has ignored the recommendation… Attorney-General Chris Finlayson and the Cabinet had “seriously considered” reparation but decided against it because they believed it was not clear that it was the Government’s responsibility or duty,”

Odd that the Government would decide that given that the investigation that commissioned found “the effect of the alleged misconduct could not be underestimated” and recommended compensation.

The government’s forum decided that it had a moral duty to pay compensation because its agents had been allowed to breach the sacred trust that those women, that all of us, put in the Police. The payment was to be ex gratia – ie not out of legal responsibility for the damage caused, but a moral duty to put things right.

So where’s the government’s reasoning to overrule that, to say that there is no moral obligation?

Nowhere. It doesn’t exist.

Finlayson has resorted to legalistic talk, ignoring that this is an issue of the Crown’s moral responsibility to appoint good people as agents and adequately monitor and control them.

Sadly, I think this is just the Nats being cheap and unwilling to face their responsibilities. They don’t care about the victims of police abuse, they care about saving a few dollars to pay for tax cuts.

44 comments on “Key govt turn backs on police sex victims ”

  1. Carol 1

    Which government set up the forum? Was it the National government or the last Labour-led one?

    This report says the case has been going on for (at least) 2 and a half years:

    It has been a lengthy struggle for the woman and nine others who have been in private negotiations with the Government over compensation.

    But after two and a half years, and a recommendation that financial redress be considered, the Government has said no.

    “We are absolutely devastated. It’s been a long time getting this forum together and

    this wasn’t the result we were wanting to get,’ the victim says.

    • Marty G 1.1

      Labour set it up after the Beazley report. I can’t imagine Labour ignoring its findings just to save a few dollars, while handing out hundreds of millions to the rich.

    • spot 1.2

      Bazley’s original report was released in March 07

    • bbfloyd 1.3

      carol… get a grip! this is not one of those times when partisan politics has any place in the debate!
      it is bad enough that our so called, “leaders” treat serious issues like this with the contempt. it is simply compounded when their apologists resort to party political point scoring to attempt to discredit the process. i can well imagine the partisan rhetoric that nact will resort to (reported as ordered by their faithful media poodles) in order to protect the police.
      some would say that this is the only option available seeing as they have been giving police the sorts of power only seen in dictatorial regimes( or the USA). not good pr to have people becoming afraid and mistrustful of the police just yet. …..

  2. Finlayson’s comment is disingenuous in the extreme. The forum recommended an “ex gratia” payment which is code for payment where there is a moral as opposed to a legal obligation to do so.

    Finlayson’s justification for not making redress is that there is no legal obligation to do so. He completely ignores the recommendation of the forum and bypasses commenting on whether or not there is a moral obligation to do so.

    I guess that “morality” is not in this Government’s vocabulary or understanding.

    • Tigger 2.1

      Funny to see him relying on legal obligation as a reason – didn’t he have a legal obligation to make correct disclosures about his trust interests? How did that work out Chris?

    • Ari 2.2

      We already knew that, micky- it was evident in their defense of their misbehaving ministers.

  3. felix 3

    Is anyone even slightly surprised at this?

    No-one who ever lived under a National govt before could be – it’s entirely within character.

  4. vto 4

    I would suggest that this sort of conduct is typical of most all governments. Governments do not hold themselves accountable.

    Other examples of governments getting things wrong and refusing all justice include compensation for agent orange, atomic testing, 245T, formaldehyde, asbestos, the list goes on and on and on and on….

    And here they are again recently expecting us to trust them on 1080 on the West Coast ………… sometimes I think those who occupy the offices of govt live in Cuckooland.

    (bit of a tangent there…)

    • felix 4.1

      ‘cept for Blinglish. He lives in Dipton.

    • Ari 4.2

      Yep, ideally when they think the constituency they’re offending is small enough and they can fly under the radar about it, they won’t do much. This is why parties with strong sub-factions are important, as is a media with a keen eye for minority interests- neither of which are currently in power. D:

  5. just saying 5

    Don’t think this decsision is primarily about money.

    There’s a funny kind of denial regarding these kinds of abuses of power. 1, The accused are completely innocent, 2, if anything happened it wasn’t that serious and/or the “vicitim” was culpable too, or provoked the situation, 3. there probably was some wrong doing, but the harm to society in rectifying the situation, outweighs any fleeting benefit to a handful of people, 4, yeah it happened but who cares? stop bleating and get a life.

    All very familiar, but I believe that in their hearts, authoritarian types manage to believe all the above at the same time, (even though they might only voice one or a blend of two (very seldom number 4). And they do it without any apparent cognitive dissonance.

    Seems to me it’s a bit like that Coen song “everybody knows”.

    And everyone knows, even if they can’t admit it, that the sort of hierarchical, authoritarian society we live in requires that we turn a blind eye, and attack the victims and others that speak out about what’s going on. Cos it’s going on all around us – those with power wantonly preying on those with less. Legally and illegally, casually and brutally, pillars of the community, and Jo ordinaries.

    This kind of action makes a clear statement. Money is a secondary consideration IMO.

    • felix 5.1

      Well put.

      If we start seriously questioning the legitimacy of power where will it all end?

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        Hopefully in a revolution against this corrupt government system (capitalism) and laws that have been used to maintain it.

    • Lanthanide 5.2

      Actually Finlayson was interviewed this morning on National Radio and it seems quite clear that money was the primary cause.

      When asked if they didn’t want to pay out because that would open the government to many more claims, Finlayson did not say “yes” but said instead that it becomes an issue of a “floodgate”, which in other words means if they pay money to these people, they have an unknown number of other potential claimants that they would also have to pay.

      • Marty G 5.2.1

        floodgate arguments are bollocks:

        ‘if we have to give justice to these people, imagine all the other people we’ll have to give justice to’

        everyone deserves justice. end of story.

        • Rex Widerstrom

          “Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere” – Martin Luther King

          Personally, I’m also guided by another quote that sums up everyting I’m working for at present: “Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just” (Blaise Pascal).

        • Ari

          That’s even assuming that payouts are justice. I’d much rather see accountability and reform to make sure this doesn’t happen again than the victims getting cash, because frankly a payout doesn’t mitigate the crime in any way, even if it is nicer than nothing.

      • toad 5.2.2

        So, just how many police rapists and victims of police rape are there, Mr Finlayson?

        Asked on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report whether the Government declined to pay the victims on the basis of legal advice that more victims might also want money, Mr Finlayson said the floodgates argument, or the consequences, must always be considered.

        “We looked at the law, we looked at the notion of an ex-gratia payment and all the circumstances and a decision was made accordingly.’

        It’s extremely worrying that he is using the “floodgates” argument.

        • the pinkpostman

          Good point Toad.Just how many are there? By his underhanded answer on Morning Report one is left wondering if creepy Finayson has undisclosed information.Are there more cases to answer.
          Its all a bit scary and unsavoury.It should be of the utmost concern to not only the public but the many decent courageous police among us.

        • Ari

          If it encouraged undiscovered victims who can establish good cases to come forward, that would be a good thing in the sense that it would reveal more of the true extent of the problem.

          You can’t be pro-justice without being anti-rape, and National wants so desperately to be seen as pro-justice that this ought to be a story waiting to happen. >:(

    • coolas 5.3

      … just saying you are spot on …

      Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
      Everybody knows that the captain lied
      Everybody got this broken feeling
      Like their father or their dog just died

    • Rex Widerstrom 5.4

      You are absolutely right, just saying.

      Once again this issue isn’t peculiar to the National Party or to New Zealand. Show me one jurisdiction where undoubted malfeasance by a public officer against an ordinary citizen attracst anything other than (at best) the possibility of an ex gratia payment.

      For instance most people, regardless of their political leanings, would agree that if you are wrongly accused of a crime, you should be compensated for your costs and the damage done to your life and reputation (though they may argue over the quantum). Yet there is a distinct lack of laws on the books mandating that this be done, even in jurisdictions which collect vast amounts of money directly from people who are convicted (“proeeds of crime” and “unexplained wealth seizure” laws etc).

      If you are harmed or assaulted by a public officer, then likewise. Even if you’re just disadvantaged you surely deserve something, as you would under tort law.

      “Ex gratia” equates to “think yourself lucky, we’re doing you a favour”, and often comes attached to a gag agreement.

      It’s not about the money (though “it’d open the floodgates” is a cunning appeal to people’s increasing meanness and unwillingness to help others). It’s about the power.

  6. M 6

    The floodgate argument on Morning report made me feel sick. If the Govt thinks there may be many more women that have been victimised by our police force then they all deserve recognition and the Govt has a moral obligation to compensate them. For him to justify refusing compensation (he even used ‘allegations’ in relation to the claimants and then corrected himself because at least one of the cases saw 3 men convicted) to these victims because there may be more victims is just awful.

    Also did any one else think he sounded like a total bumbling fool? He couldn’t get a sentence out properly and Plunket nailed him pretty well, I thought.

  7. Lats 7

    With all due respoect, if the officers involved have acted inappropriately why aren’t they standing in front of a judge being sentenced? Clearly misconduct of this type, if proven, is against the law. To pay reparations based solely on an alleged act doesn\’t seem right.

  8. albatross 8

    Oh yes let’s make the government pay compensation to the victims plus the three hundred others included in bazley’s report plus the agent orange victims plus everybody who’s ever had a legitimate grievance with individuals in government anywhere.

    If government was held accountable for the actions of rogue people within it then government would be much more careful and much smaller as a result. Actually I like that idea.

    • The Voice of Reason 8.1

      It’s rare to see the inner workings of a conflicted mind laid out so clearly. Well done, Albie, terrific to see you fighting so valiantly against yourself. Sadly, I think both of your minds have lost this particular argument.

      1. Compensation is normal in a capitalist society to resolve all sorts of grievances, particularly when government agencies go wrong. Ask Rodney King or Arthur Thomas.

      2. There is no corelation between ‘careful’ government and ‘smaller’ government. In fact, I would have thought that in order to ensure that ‘care’, more people would have to be hired to weed out the rogues and oversee the rest.

  9. Sarge 9

    “The Government has rejected a secret forum’s recommendation that 10 women who alleged sexual misconduct by police officers get reparation.”

    Alleged?? As in, untested and unexamined claims?? If something is alleged, and hasn’t been tested in court, you get nothing. I’m sorry, but why should the tax payer give a cent to people who aren’t prepared to have their claims tested.

    • The Voice of Reason 9.1

      Some of them have been tested in court and at least one rapist rozzer is in the pokey as we speak.The claims have been thoroughly examined, time and time again, actually. What is broadly accepted is that there was a culture of violence towards women in the Police, even if the evidence able to be provided is not sufficient to succesfully take a criminal case against all the abusers.

      The abuse happened, Sarge. That much at least is not being denied by this pathetic government, even if compensation is.

      • Sarge 9.1.1

        And many were found innocent. How many cops have been found guilty of raping Nicholas, for example. Why use the word “alleged” if it’s been proven?

        But this is a private matter between the inidividual officers, and the accusers. Why should the tax payer foot the bill?? Or, to put it the other way, when accusations fail to hold up in court, and innocent officers lose both public respect and future prospects (ie. It was no secret that this affair cost Rickards his promotion), then should he have been able to claim compensation for lost earnings/loss of standing? If not, why not? Exact same principle.

        • bbfloyd

          sarge… dissembling is not an argument. rickard may have got off the rape charge(where did he get the hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay his large legal team?), but what did come out was that his, and his fellow officers behaviour was, at best immoral.
          there were more than enough questionmarks left hanging over them to justify his treatment by administrations of any ilk.
          you seem not to understand that law enforcement becomes more difficult the less respect society has for the police in general. to be respected, you need to live in a respectable manner.
          this is patently not the case with the above.

        • The Voice of Reason

          Rickards did get compo, you wally. He was paid off because even the police couldn’t stand to have him around. He was on over $300k a year and presumably got a payout of that much or more. Not bad dosh, if you don’t mind not being able to look your kids in the eye.

          So why shouldn’t his victims get something for all he, and a lot of his colleagues, did? Remember he admitted doing bad shit while in uniform, on police time and actually used police equipment as part of the abuse.

      • Lats 9.1.2

        Firstly, let me state that I am no friend of the Nats, I’ve voted on the left my entire life.

        I have no issue with appropriate compensation being paid when it is clear that the state, either directly or through an agent, acts in a manner which deliberately or negligently leads to harm. But I feel a bit uneasy about decisions like this being made by “a secret forum”, and I don’t really care which government set it up. The acid test for guilt and/or accountability must be to have those accused stand before a court of law. If needs be, for the security of the victim, these court sessions can be private and have the public and press barred. But if the “evidence able to be provided is not sufficient to successfully take a criminal case against all the abusers” then by our legal system the “abusers” must be found not guilty. To do otherwise is to assume guilt without evidence, something I would expect from a dictatorship or fascist regime. If the abuse is as endemic as is claimed (and I’m not saying it isn’t) then rather than pointing the finger at an individual officer, perhaps the case should be taken against the police organisation as a whole. But to award compensation for alleged claims without trying the case in a court of law is simply wrong.

        • mcflock

          not quite – the govt paying compensation to apparent victims of apparently corrupt police in no way punishes a particular police officer.

          Whether alleged rapists are able to question the sexual history or truthfulness of their alleged victim is another issue entirely – not touching that with a bargepole, even if I felt confident about an opinion one way or another (wasn’t there a case a couple of years back where the defendant defended himself and put one of his victims on the stand for several days, reliving the event in precise detail?).

          But for an organisation to sit down and say “it looks like that even if there is no proof beyond reasonable doubt that person X did Y to you, it looks probable that we, as an organisation, owe you an apology and here is some compensation as a token of our remorse”.

          If more organisations did that, rather than covering up and protecting their members from accusation and justice, the world would be a happier place.

          • Lats

            That sounds a great deal like hush money to me. If someone in the Nats suggested the Police should pay to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct commentators from the left would all over them, and vice versa.

            Would you like some fries with that hypocrisy sir? 😉

            • mcflock

              no. Hush money is conditional on (or at least to encourage) the recipient remaining silent, hence the word “hush”.

              What I’m talking about is, particularly after the criminal cases are done and dusted, whether the organisation recognises itself as being to some degree morally culpable for the probable actions of individuals.

              Of course, there would be no apparent moral culpability if the organisation had clearly worked to identify and prevent wrongdoing by its members, and supported complainants through the process in the first place.

  10. bobo 10

    Not sure out of Finlayson or Hide which one I detest more with their arrogance. How much will legal fees be costing in defending this dragging on for years as apposed to paying out now to the claimants who cases have been proven in court ?

    • jcuknz 10.1

      I understand that only one of the eight has had her case proved in court, the other seven were dismissed …I’m sure that is what she said on NatRad yesterday morning. I’m a little suspicious of the Labour Minister of Police commenting because it looks as if she put off doing anything until ‘after the election’ and as we know Labour lost. Not that I disagree with her. Surely this is something that can be handled through ACC. I’m sure in the past they have helped with cases of mental distress or whatever you want to call it.

  11. johnbrash 11

    That Mr Key is raping New Zealand just like those policemen raped those women.

    • Ari 11.1

      That is completely disgusting and inappropriate. There is no analogy between someone optimistically (or perhaps just blindly or ignorantly) pursuing failing policies and rape. None at all.

    • felix 11.2

      Yeah that’s a pretty insensitive turn of phrase, to put it mildly.

  12. Treetop 12

    “Cops do not up hold the law by breaking it.”

    David Trappitt’s NZ police guidelines not being followed is why Dewar spent time in a prison cell.

    I have taken a different approach to my problems with police management which spans over 30 years as I was not sexually assaulted by the police, but due to being summoned to CIB in 1979 and silenced and bullied the CIB inquisition triggered the impact of being sexually abused when age 7 which resulted in being afflicted by PTSD in 1979 and due to the police not investigating what a police officer boy friend told me (when age 16) about a politician who was forced to resign from parliament, the PTSD has been intensified and prolonged. By the time I am finished with my ACC claim, which a psychiatrist expects me to single handedly prove the incompetence of the police, (I will expose many people) and it is my hope that the public see how dishonest police management is.

    Unfortunately I have crossed paths with Clint Rickards in 2002. Three current police superintendents have reiterated a defamatory statement initially made by C.R Rickards to the last three ministers of police, and other defamatory statements have been added on by the three superintendents. (I want to see the secret deal for compensation as the government do not fully understand that the police sexual assault complainants have been retraumatised by authority). ACC have paid out undercover cops for years, rightly so as their employer, the police played with their emotions and psychological reasoning.

    I have approached a number of people in the last five years, because my case is so complex, I do not have the financial resources and the terms of reference in Dame Bazley’s inquiry excluded me, I have been denied justice. I consider going through the IPCA as being a waste of time.

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