Roger Sutton needs the book thrown at him

Written By: - Date published: 9:14 am, November 19th, 2014 - 99 comments
Categories: law - Tags: , , ,

I have no real opinion about the details of the complaint against Roger Sutton, there simply isn’t enough information in the context. That would require seeing the report. Which of course is why authors have been circumspect about writing about this topic.

However I do have strong opinion about someone who breaks the confidentiality clauses of any agreement.

Outgoing chief executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, Roger Sutton, has breached the confidentiality clause of his settlement with the State Services Commission, the commissioner says.

In an interview this evening State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie refused to discuss the allegations made against Sutton saying he was bound by confidentiality clauses, as was Sutton and the complainant.

Rennie believed Sutton has breached the agreement, and has told him so. Tonight Rennie said he was considering what action he might take against Sutton, but refused to say what.

From all accounts, the investigation was complete and extensive. It appears to have been conducted in a clear and mandated manner. The conclusions was quite unambiguous. At the end Roger Sutton decided to stand down.

But breaching the confidentiality agreement to effectively take PR potshots at the complainant by way of trivialising the complaint just reeks of deliberate victimisation. It appears that Roger Sutton deliberately broke the exit agreement that he took with the State Services Commission.

My view is that the State Services Commission should take the maximum legal and procedural action it can against Roger Sutton to discourage similar arsehole behaviour in future. Confidentiality clauses are put into agreements for a reason and dickheads who agree to them and who refuse to abide by them need to be make public examples of.

Andrea Vance points out the imbalance of the PR campaign.

In a year when the public service should be self-flagellating over the mishandling of the Malaysian diplomat sexual assault case and the Roastbusters scandal, the SSC has taken victim-shaming to a whole new level.

Sutton’s victim did not make her complaint lightly. She’s respected, professional (not that this matters) and, like any woman forced into this nightmare, would have worried about her career. But, she bravely made a stand and forced her harasser to face up to his actions.

And how did the SSC reward her for her courage? They allowed her to be victim-shamed. First privately. And then very publicly.

She then looks at some of the details of the process for investigating the complaint, which look adequate to me.

But somehow, that all got lost in the disgraceful public relations exercise that saved the face of the Christchurch rebuild.

Instead of supporting the victim, the SSC stage-managed Sutton’s exit with a press conference. He was given a platform to shrug off his behaviour as mere hugs, eccentricity, folksy terms of endearment.

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Andrew Kibblewhite – the top tier of the public service – travelled from Wellington to attend his press conference. Rennie praised him, Kibblewhite hugged him. Sutton’s wife gave tearful interviews in front of the cameras.

Yesterday’s performance was not contrition, it was about salvaging his reputation.

I tend to disagree with Vance about having the press conference. Some public explanation needs to be made about why a head of an organisation so crucial to many people’s lives needs to explain why.

What wasn’t was the actual process of the press conference and subsequent followup from others around the issue including Roger Sutton’s wife. To me that looks like a pretty deliberate beat up of someone else framed in a manner that just screams PR exercise. Breaking a confidentiality agreement to have a go at someone is appalling behaviour and just reeks of someone abusing position.

Sutton this week said the conduct he engaged in was unwanted hugs and sexist comments.

Rennie was upset the information was made public.

“I think it’s really unfortunate that information that relates to the complaint has been made public,” Rennie said.

Asked if the assertions by Sutton were correct, Rennie said: “The issue is you can’t look at information in isolation, you have to look at the context.”

I completely agree with the complainant in this.

The woman who made a sexual harassment complaint against Cera chief executive Roger Sutton is “torn up” and upset he has been able to foster public sympathy.

The victim has been told by State Services Commission (SSC) lawyers not to speak publicly about the case. She has repeatedly declined to comment when approached by Press.

She appears to have followed the process and to be abiding by the agreement. Roger Sutton appears to not be doing so.

To prevent repeats of this ridiculous behaviour by Roger Sutton and others who will inevitably follow his behaviour if it is unchecked.

Iain Rennie – please throw the book at him to ensure we don’t have dickheads doing this again. To do anything else is to implicitly condone this appalling behavior in denigrating the process followed.

 

This post will be fully moderated and I’m not confident that people will stick to the topics of the process or breaking agreements. Comments that drift into looking at the complainant will be terminated and I will impose bans.

99 comments on “Roger Sutton needs the book thrown at him”

  1. ianmac 1

    This morning Rennie said that there was no legal way of stopping either the complainant or the accused from speaking to the media.

    • lprent 1.1

      I didn’t hear that. But it figures. You can’t gag someone when they really want to be a dickhead.

      However I suspect a summary dismissal for cause is quite feasible.

      • Tracey 1.1.1

        Couldn’t the victim sue Sutton for breach of contract and damages IF she was a party to the agreement, and a signatory? If she wasn’t couldn’t the SSC or whoever WAS a party tot he contract with Sutton which included the clause sue him likewise?

        • ghostwhowalksnz 1.1.1.1

          Really ! People dont operate like that . Stir up more publicity over something intensely personal. Get a reality check

          • Tracey 1.1.1.1.1

            I get that but i was responding to rennie reportedly saying there was no legal recourse for the confidentiality breach. In my opinion any party to the agreement could sue, whether the victim wants to put herself through that wouldnt change the legal right and render rennies statement false.

    • contract 1.2

      I found that comment interesting.

      He said the SSC could not stop the complainant from speaking to the media.

      When you join the public service you sign a confidentiality statement. you cannot go to the media without permission. i know of a number of parts of the public service where this rule has been laid down at times when the media is particularly interested. it has been laid down by names many would be familiar with.

      I was really surprised and disappointed to hear this use of semantics.

  2. weka 2

    I’m a little unclear, wasn’t Rennie a colluding or at least enabling part of the PR conference where Sutton was able to break (or continue to break) the agreement? How can he now censure Sutton when he was part of the problem?

      • weka 2.1.1

        sorry about the other comment, just reread the bold at the bottom of the post and can see it overstepped the mark.

        [lprent: Opps – wrong comment. Your one was well within the bounds as it talked about process. ]

    • karol 2.2

      It strikes me that there was a bit of an old boys’ network swung in behind Sutton, even though the inquiry seems to have been fairly objective. Rennie seems to have been a Sutton enabler, without possibly having realised what he had done – at least not until there was a publicly visible backlash. Then Rennie had second thoughts and became critical of Sutton.

  3. Adrian 3

    There should be a lot less confidentiality agreements with the exception of names.
    All it leads to is speculation and bullshit construction, if the actual complaint hadn’t been publicised ( by Sutton or whomever ) then God only knows what sort of connatations would have been put on this.
    Rennie is a typical shiny-arsed bureaucrat who is only interested in control.

    • Tracey 3.1

      Remember his twisting and turning for the PM over the appointment of Fletcher?

    • Te Reo Putake 3.2

      Confidentiality is actually an important part of settling matters like this. Not for the sake of the abuser, but for the complainant. It’s on the same continuum as not naming child sex abusers to protect the victims.

      It’s likely that the complainant here has received monetary (or similar) compensation for what she has gone through and if she breaks confidentiality, she risks having to give that back. Sutton risks little by breaching the agreement as he is not receiving anything other than his holiday pay and super when he goes. So Sutton clearly felt he was free to belittle the complaint and to try and trivialise his own behaviour. In doing that, he has added further humiliation to the victim and CERA are likely to be facing a claim for that as well.

      But that won’t bother Sutton, as he has now framed his abuse as being merely ‘hugs and jokes’. A couple of months of gardening leave, a decent holiday somewhere pleasant, and a posting to a board or similar sinecure awaits him. His biggest sin, apparently, was finding Bronagh Key shagalicious. Ironic really, because his behaviour isn’t a million miles away from the dodgy joke based career of our chilled out entertainer PM.

  4. Tracey 4

    I guess the main question is what is the actual consequence, practically of breaching the agreement? Can he be summarily dismissed and that begins today?

    IF he wasnt getting a golden handshake, that can’t be taken from him

    Was he on a fixed contract and they have paid out the term?

    I dont think Sutton was taking potshots at the complainant per se, I believe he was deliberately downplaying his conduct either because he doesn’t see what he has done wrong, or to make himself more employable in his next position.

    When there is a vacuum the press seek to fill it. Sutton has obliged. Is this going to be like the PM admitting abuse of the OIA, there is no consequence?

  5. adam 5

    Thanks Iprent, you have said what my whole household feels about this issue.

    Blaming the victim by management types, has become ridiculous and downright nasty approach by some, to attempt to justify their sickening behaviour in the workplace.

  6. Tracey 6

    I think you missed Vance’s point. The press conference needed to be held. BUT only with Ian Rennie there to say that due to findings in the report Sutton had resigned.

    Sutton didnt need to be there, neither did Kibblefodder. Sutton didnt need to be praised by one and hugged by the other. By doing all those things Rennie and Kibblefodder played the down-playing game and enabled Sutton to look like a silly duiffer who didnt really do anything wrong but you know, a woman complained, and i is technically against the rules so… all the while KNOWING she was being bound by confidentiality

    THAT I believe was her point

    “State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Andrew Kibblewhite – the top tier of the public service – travelled from Wellington to attend his press conference. Rennie praised him, Kibblewhite hugged him. Sutton’s wife gave tearful interviews in front of the cameras.

    Yesterday’s performance was not contrition, it was about salvaging his reputation.”

  7. Mjoy 7

    It seems to me that Roger Sutton is re victimising the woman who complained about his behaviour by minimising it- “jokes, hugs, calling people sweetie”- now the woman is being accused of “over reacting” and blamed for his job loss. He has chosen to depart rather than change his behaviour and the details are confidential. This is unacceptable I wonder how big Sutton’s golden handshake will be?

  8. exStatic 8

    As I stated in Open Mike, I have worked in the same organisation as Sutton many years ago. His behaviour there was similar.
    Sutton is a ruthless operator, when he set his eyes on the role of Lobbyist for the Bradford electricity industry reform, he undermined and lobbied against the very capable incumbent, eventually forcing him out of the organisation. He loves the limelight – something I think everyone now realises.
    It became a standing joke in the Company that when Roger had to change offices, the movers found a drawer full of condoms. Roger had very close relations with the large pool of young, easily impressionable female office workers!
    Again, after all these years, I see the same person, the same love of the limelight, the same “it’s all about me” and the belief that, if people only listen to him, everything will be all right.
    Many of us were astounded he managed to land the CERA job. As CEO of Orion, he had a senior management group of highly expeerienced engineers, any of whom could have run the organisation easily. Roger was just the PR front person. All fluff and no substance.

    [lprent: I let this through despite some quibbles about its unsubstantiated content because the process is meant to prevent repeated behaviour. This is anecdotal, but with some of the others I have read indicates a well-known pattern of repeated behaviour. That makes the rather blatant violation of confidentiality even more hurtful *and* diminishes the process designed to alleviate the harm it does in the workplace. ]

    • Tracey 8.1

      IF your description is accurate then he has been enabled and excused in every job he has held. It would surely be common knowledge yet up the ladder he went…

      • exStatic 8.1.1

        Correct……

      • Murray Rawshark 8.1.2

        In my experience this is quite common. How about the Army officer who tried to rape his mate’s wife and is now running some state service entity. It seems that once these guys get a foot on the ladder, nothing stops them.

  9. ianmac 9

    I suppose there is strong support for Mr Sutton for doing his job very well as the front man for the power supply and for Cera, versus being nasty to staff.
    I like the way he did his job but condemn the relationship behaviour with co-workers. Tricky.

    • exStatic 9.1

      Sutton was “The Great Communicator”. He had little to do with any actual work. If you read Brownlee’s press statement, it was masterly in what it did NOT say.
      There has been long and strong criticism of Sutton’s non performance in affected circles in Christchurch for a long time. Unfortunately a cultivated, fawning media have tried to protect Sutton by keeping a lid on it.

  10. shorts 10

    Screams of yet another highly paid and placed male getting protected and enabled to victim blame… this isn’t good enough!

    Those he victimised deserve better – those around the country subjected to similar behaviour by highly placed and valued males need to see that men can’t get away with this shit

    Execs on huge salaries must be shown that they can’t act like god and still retain stupidly large pay packets regardless of what they do

    disgusted on every level

  11. Jenny Kirk 11

    All power to the woman complainant !!
    With Sutton’s publicity, she’s being made the scapegoat while Sutton comes out looking like the “victim”.
    Typical arrogant sexist behaviour on the part of the sexist male. (and I don’t think all males are sexist – just this sort of male – but unfortunately there are too many of them in our society).

    • Tracey 11.1

      .in HIGH and INFLUENTIAL positions

    • Chooky 11.2

      Yes it takes a lot of courage for a woman or girl (or boy or man) to call out on sexual harassment …because they are in a dependent position …generally they put up with a lot before they have the courage to speak out…hence they should be taken very seriously because it can undermine their health and make their work situation impossible…it undermines their professionalism and personal integrity

      …really the harasser has an ego and insensitivity to others problem…and a power and control problem…sexual harassment is a form of abuse

      …unfortunately the harasser often can’t see the seriousness of their adverse effects on his/her victims…because they are not seeing and listening to others as individuals with rights …..they have their own self- centred agenda for their behaviour which is to them is unassailable

  12. r0b 12

    I cleared the moderation queue before I realised that there was particular moderation on this post. lprent might want to review the comments (especially #8), sorry!

    • ghostwhowalksnz 12.1

      There is more details in the public arena, but its best to avoid re- victimising the complainant, which to be seems to be a valid reason for the moderation.

      • lprent 12.1.1

        That was my viewpoint. Generally most of the authors including myself don’t cover specific cases of this type in any depth. Because there is no public interest in highlighting the case we don’t. Being a perverted panty sniffer is something we leave to Cameron Slater and other arseholes of the blogs and media.

        We will usually look at the processes in general rather than detail.

        The exception is when there is a something specific that speaks to the failure of the systems designed to prevent, process or prevent repeats. For instance the role of the police in Roastbusters, or in this case where it appears that the processes were followed, but a party is trying to circumvent the results. So this post isn’t about the detail of what the SSC investigated. But it is on the outcome of the process and its perversion in a blaze of personal blame shifting by Sutton.

  13. Lanthanide 13

    Not sure if you want to let this through moderation, but it was reported on Morning Report at the 8am news briefing.

    Apparently the allegations include:

    [deleted]

    [lprent: I saw that, but it is outside the bounds because it is on the specific complaint. These were reported in one of my links but I deliberately excluded it. I let a comment through looking at a previous job to show the repitition. ]

  14. Rodel 14

    Letters to the editor are plentiful with anecdotes but few facts . Mr Sutton’s PR exercise in plausibility seems to have been successful so far.

    I get a bit annoyed with the media plaudits about his martyrdom in moving from a salary of about $13,000 a week to a mere $10,000 a week.

  15. Mark 15

    I think Rennie’s behaviour for once was what it should be in these circumstances. He has come out very strongly in the Press today leaving no body in any doubt that Sutton was guilty of serious misconduct. He nailed Sutton’s butt to the wall this morning. He said he was very disappointed that Sutton had breached the confidentiality agreement and had told him so and had contacted Sutton’s lawyer to advise they were considering further sanctions against him. Rennie has met the complainant and apologised on behalf of the public service. In his words “Her treatment wasn’t good enough, her hurt was genuine and the behaviour she experienced was not trivial”. Sutton’s behaviour on the other hand needs all the condemnation it is getting and more.

  16. exStatic 16

    Like him or not Hooten nails it.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 16.1

      Hooten must have had his delayed Cera invoices paid recently, so now he free to have some utu

      • exStatic 16.1.1

        I think Brownlee was onto Sutton. It was pretty well know that their relationship soured. Someone at SSC pushed Sutton to have sessions with a psychologist to “help” him with his behaviour (yet he claims that he was never told there was anything remiss is his behaviour).
        Brownlee’s statement is that of a boss going through the motions, Rennie and Key should have done the same rather than allowing Sutton to conduct a PR circus.

        • ghostwhowalksnz 16.1.1.1

          Sutton couldnt help making it all about him, with the stage lights on, cameras ready, it was just another performance for him.
          This time the reviews have turned against him, so I hope its the last time we hear from this trouper

    • MrV 16.2

      We listen to Hooton now, are you serious?
      Someone who hasn’t done a damn thing except suck on the govt. PR teat.

      It certainly wasn’t him getting the electricity restored post earthquake.

  17. Brutus Iscariot 17

    The “hug” business was always a red herring. Clearly more went on that meets the eye, and now things are surfacing that completely change the picture – e.g the Bronagh Key comments revealed this morning.

    He comes across as a bit of a weirdo, and that’s evident in Michele Hewitson’s interview of him a few years ago. At the very least “sweetie” and “honey” are unprofessional and patronising, let alone hugging which is extremely unprofessional outside very specific circumstances.

    I think the guy resigned because he was afraid of further skeletons surfacing.

  18. weka 18

    Does anyone know if Sutton would have had a payout on leaving? NRT has implied he did.

    • exStatic 18.1

      Apparently. It should be rescinded following his breach of confidentiality.

    • Weepus beard 18.2

      Massive handshake – at the expense of the people of Christchurch.

    • Lanthanide 18.3

      Yes, he is leaving on 31st January and will receive a payment in addition to the salary he is due until 31st Jan.

      Given that he has said he was considering quitting next year anyway, and the investigation didn’t recommend that he be sacked, it seems like he is taking this opportunity to leave early and get an extra payout for it.

  19. Weepus beard 19

    Sutton has to go now and he will. So wedded is he to the Dept of the Prime Minister that Kibblewhite is having to make statements that the PM doesn’t support Sutton in the way that he, Kibblewhite, did when he hugged Sutton at the press conference.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/63341259/SSC-back-pedalling-over-Sutton

  20. Not a PS Shark Sashimi 20

    Iain Rennie and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Andrew Kibblewhite were barking mad to fly to Christchurch and participate in the press conference.
    I expect to see both loose their jobs over this.

    Does anyone know who Sutton’s PR advisors are/were? Or were the PR advisors retained by SSC/DPM?

  21. weka 21

    Laura McQuillan ‏@mcquillanatorz 3 hrs3 hours ago
    Former PSA boss Brenda Pilott calls for Sutton to be put on gardening leave or sacked for breaching confidentiality https://m.facebook.com/brenda.pilott/posts/10202520412923668

    Pilot:

    I’ve been mulling on the Sutton sexual harassment case, the State Service Commissioner’s decisions and how all this has played out in the media.

    Here’s how it looks to me:

    – on the basis of my experience with him, I would imagine Rennie would have done a careful and fair-minded investigation and would have been guided by legal advice as to what sanctions he could justify. Dismissal clearly wasn’t seen as an option. Regrettably.

    – I think he made a mistake in accepting Sutton’s decision to remain in the job till the end of January. At least he should not have required him to be at work for that time – gardening leave.

    – Now Sutton has broken the confidentiality agreements, and managed to drum up some public support, Rennie should either dismiss him, if possible, or put him on gardening leave.

    – Tough as this is, I’d love to see the complainant say her piece. Sutton has re-victimised her by his behaviour in announcing his “resignation” and her voice has been silenced.

    – the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace has been trivialised and Rennie now has the problem of how to deal with this. How hard will it be for the next woman who is harassed by her boss?

    I hope Rennie makes the call on turfing Sutton out today. And I hope others in positions of power and influence shut up about what a good bloke Sutton is. He’s a sexual harasser, by his own admission. That is not what a good bloke does.

  22. Sue 22

    Perhaps the SSC will not take action because Sutton has not breached confidentiality – say for example, if his public portrayal of events does align with investigation findings. If someone who was aware of the events that gave rise to a substantiated claim amounting to serious misconduct (or sexual misconduct) was to subsequently accuse Sutton of breach of confidentiality, that could easily validate the ‘hugs n jokes’ explanation. Lesser of the two evils?

  23. Jo 23

    I agree Sutton needs to front up and answer some serious questions about his behaviour and if he has any self respect he will not accept a salary until his contract finishes or a golden handshake.
    However I don’t remember you calling for Len Brown to have the book thrown at him, at least Sutton didn’t sleep with a paid member of the Council staff. At least Sutton resigned, even if it was all spin, he is gone and his reputation is in tatters.

    Or do you see the situations as different because one is a government appointment and the other elected?

    • RedBaronCV 23.1

      I do not believe that this is factually correct but do not wish to correct it as that does not deal with the post. It alos appears to divert away from the process around Sutton.

    • NickS 23.2

      /facepalm

      One was mutual, the other unwanted.

      Not fucking difficult to notice, nor grasp the implications T_T

      • Jo 23.2.1

        That is the most breathtakingly ill informed and stupid comment I have ever seen and I can’t believe that the moderators allow such nonsense, without at least challenging it.
        Len Brown abused his position, just like the female teacher who has recently been stood down for having sex with two pupils. Would it be morally OK for the PM to have a sexual relationship with a young staff member, no, and this blog would quite rightly be calling for him to resign.
        Sutton was wrong and he is gone, the teacher was wrong and she is gone and Len didn’t have the moral compass to know that what he did was totally unacceptable as a elected official or as a employer, yet he stays. I guess he thinks he is above the accepted norms of behaviour for someone in his position, and he has the support of people like you.

        • Chooky 23.2.1.1

          @ Jo..you are the stupid one, not NickS

          ..Len Brown may have abused his position but his sexual partner was more than willing for quite some time (two years?)… and in fact revealed the affair ….and in fact was milking her influence for all she could….VERY BIG DIFFERENCE !…from the unwanted sexual attentions and sexual harassment by Sutton….no comparison

        • NickS 23.2.1.2

          🙄

          Oh joy, not just conservative, but of the “sex is badzors1!11!!!!” idiots-brigade.

          And kid, I can think rings round you even hobbled by sleep apnoea and depression.

          Thus, why then is unwanted sexual harassment the moral equivalent of a mutual affair? Hint it’s to do with the “unwanted” and “mutual” parts, which you ignored completely in your post.

          What’s to bet though you’ll post a reply that’s so fucking stereotypical of your ilk that I could write it out here and now even in my sleep deprived state.

          But hey, how about you try a surprise me with a serious examination of harm, backed by empirical evidence not drawn from which ever talk-back/etc “personality” is flavour of teh month’s talking points/blog/book? Can’t be that hard right?

          Yours, the resident Social Justice Berserker.

    • Gareth 23.3

      Bevan Chuang was not a paid member of the Council staff.

      She was appointed to an Advisory Panel by the Mayor as were all other members of the panel. The appointment was 2 months before the affair started. The panel has a budget of $87,000 per year to reimburse costs of travel and research to it’s 12 members. They serve on the panel as long as they want to or as long as the mayor wants them there, whichever is shorter. In Ms Chuang’s case she left the panel to take up a job at the Auckland Art Gallery from which she was later fired for not disclosing a prior conviction.

      • RedBaronCV 23.3.1

        Thanks – in the original post that was the point I felt was incorrect. There was not an employer employee relationship between Brown & Chuang nor anything approaching it. Nor dare I say have others been so unkind as to out even more interesting behaviour than Len’s from some of the right.

  24. MrSmith 24

    Remember when Sutton rode into town on his bike, taking a big pay cut all in the name of pitching in (sound like anyone else we know) and getting the job done or some such rubbish the National spin merchants had thought up, the punters lapped it up and the media went along for the ride.

    Yet people in CHCH still sit in their broken or patched up homes, with their broken lives, no escape, unlike our Mr Sutton who will just wipe the shit of his shoes with $100 bills and move on to the next plush job that most anyone with a few clues could do with ease for a fraction of the money.

    Goodbye Sutton nobodies gonna miss you around here.

  25. Charles Temworth. 25

    Rodger Sutton presents “visible Gstring Fridays” lol just another National appointed idiot and wanker.

  26. Jay 26

    Wow. Finally a writer who has no opinion about the original issue, since, like the rest of us, they don’t know exactly what took place. Most media disgracefully pounced on the complainant.

    What Sutton did at that press conference was a clumsy and foolish attempt to spin his (doubtless forced) resignation, and garner sympathy. In selfishly doing so he managed to bring about the complainants vilification. Whether he meant to or not I don’t know, I suspect he didn’t care either way.

    Luckily this has backfired -his big mouth has gotten him into trouble again. This will taint him forever and rightly so.

    • tc 26.1

      I doubt it will taint him at all, boys club members get looked after and the MSM will not seek the truth and parrott the spin provided.

      • idlegus 26.1.1

        it may not taint him but hes become somewhat of a joke, geof bryant on the sound was making jokes about him on the radio, & i imagine the guys on 7 days will add a few too, certainly backfired on sutton & good job.

  27. So, if Sutton took a $200k pay drop and became an altruistic hero to Christchurch because of that, it now turns out he had a $1m final payout after 4 years.
    So he actually got a pay Increase to go the CERA?

  28. SDCLFC 28

    Disagree somewhat with you re the Press Conference (though not that your unhappy with the way it went rather than the need for it).
    The Press Conference has become he MO de jour for public figures wanting to rehabilitate their public image from the Aaron Gilmore to Kim Kardashian.
    Reading today’s reports that Key had received assurances from Rennie that it would be handled properly points to Rennie thinking that the Press Conference for fair for Sutton. It was disgusting.
    Darling of the Green Party Robyn Malcolm has disappointed as well. A good example of why celebrities should keep clear of politics.

    • RedLogix 28.1

      Who made this matter public in the first place? I understand it was the SSC’s decision – not Sutton’s. Is that correct?

      In her public statement the Human Rights Commissioner Jackie Blue said:

      I simply do not understand why the confidential complaint and mediation processes in the Employment Relations Act or Human Rights Act were not used. These processes are designed to achieve confidential resolution of difficult matters like these to the satisfaction of both parties and in a way that preserves the human dignity of all involved.

      So why is this in the public domain at all?

    • Murray Rawshark 28.2

      From what I know of the art scene and the corporate scene, behaviour that actors may find quite acceptable would be intolerable in a corporate office. That, besides a loyalty to family, is the only thing I can think about Mrs. West’s statement.

      There are women who find what I would describe as sexual harassment in the workplace quite acceptable, and even more who tolerate it. I find this quite sad in itself, but I suppose it’s what to expect in a world of inverted values. We need to change things, and always will.

  29. Jay 29

    Yes Robyn Malcom just cant keep her big mouth shut can she? “Two sides to the story”. So more victim blaming and more stress for the complainant – now a celebrity is climbing all over her. Thanks Robyn, you do realise that your brother-in-jaw gave his side of the story right? Unlike the complainant. Did you not feel the kicking that she has already received was enough? Robyn must be a pretty rare combination of thick, arrogant and nasty.

    And all this stemming from an ill-advised and ultimately disastrous press conference.John Key must be tearing his hair out.

    • RedLogix 29.1

      Have another look at lprent’s first assertion:

      I have no real opinion about the details of the complaint against Roger Sutton, there simply isn’t enough information in the context. That would require seeing the report. Which of course is why authors have been circumspect about writing about this topic.

      And look at RS’s statement – he fully acknowledges he’s been wrong and has resigned as a consequence.

      “Hugs, jokes … I do do those things. I have hurt somebody and I’m very, very sorry about that. I may also have offended other women through my actions and I’m really sorry to them as well.

      “I’ve never meant any harm. I’ve worked my guts out for the last 3 1/2 years to try and support people in this community. I’m very upset I have hurt people.

      “I am who I am. I’ve called women ‘honey’ and ‘sweetie’ and that is wrong. That is a sexist thing to do and I’ll stop doing that.”

      It was time for a change and the past eight weeks had been the last straw, he said.

      “Now just feels like the right time.

      “This is a hard job and needs someone to give it 100 per cent. I’m too exhausted to give it 100 per cent.”

      Sutton said he would have left anyway, probably later next year.

      “I’ve done lots and lots in this job but I haven’t done enough with my family … my wife is bringing up our children alone at the moment.”

      He was seeing a psychologist and confronting his behaviour.

      “I’m not a victim. I take responsibility. I’m really determined out of this I will become a better person. I’ll tell fewer inappropriate jokes. If I see others behaving inappropriately, I will be on to them much more quickly because I know what it’s like when you cross the line and hurt people.

      That seems to be the ‘side of the story’ he’s given. What more do you want?

    • Weepus beard 29.2

      Blood is thicker than water.

  30. This whole sorry saga should never have been publicly aired. This is an employment issue and the rest of us have no role in it. Having said that, as someone with an expert opinion in these matters, I have very little confidence in the State Services Commission.
    We just don’t know enough to take any side in this matter so comments on the victim, the offender, the appropriateness of the response and his separation payments are completely inappropriate.
    But now that there has been a public airing, I guess we will go down the familiar track of examining the minutiae and retrospectively apportioning blame to whomever.
    I don’t particularly like Robyn Malcolm, but in this instance I can understand why she would feel the need to support her family. She is a strong minded woman who appears to speak her mind. I don’t like a lot of what she says but I can respect her strength. She doesn’t deserve too be hammered for asking for balance. The rest of us who know squat about this would be better of letting the affair take its course without resorting to inflammatory rhetoric.

  31. Jay 31

    I have an expert involvement in these matters also. Like Iprent have zero opinion about the original issue, aside from noting that after an investigation the complaint was upheld.

    I do however have a major issue with Suttons comments, and the subsequent commentary in the media. The complainant HAS been vilified, and her complaint minimised by the offender, and now his sister-in-law. Yes Sutton has been been vilified also – but only after that press conference more-or-less.

    Since there was a finding of serious mis-conduct it’s likely he has been the author of his own misfortune from whoa to go. So bad luck for him really

    Setting aside how the complainant must be feeling, the real issue here is the impact that this will have on other people being sexually harassed or bullied at work.

    Sutton with his ill-advised and probably sly words, Robyn Malcoms support, and anyone else who has jumped on the band wagon and/or failed to denounce it, are all complicit in this.

    • RedLogix 31.1

      aside from noting that after an investigation the complaint was upheld

      And confirmed by Sutton. No issue here.

      I do however have a major issue with Suttons comments, and the subsequent commentary in the media. The complainant HAS been vilified, and her complaint minimised by the offender, and now his sister-in-law.

      So exactly what is Sutton supposed to have done here?

      If he had kept quiet and continued in the role it is almost certain that there would have been a leak – Len Brown style – leading to scandal and outrage at the ‘cover up’.

      He could not simply announce his resignation without giving it some context – again if he had omitted that there would have been speculation, whispers and a leak. Same result.

      So he chose to make a joint announcement with the SSC that he was resigning and to give an brief explanation, apologise, take full responsibility and commit to never making these mistakes again.

      And if that was laying the ground work for his eventual rehabilitation then so be it. What other outcome would you prefer?

      Setting aside how the complainant must be feeling, the real issue here is the impact that this will have on other people being sexually harassed or bullied at work.

      Which is why in principle I strongly – I cannot emphasise this enough – agree with Jackie Blue that these matters should remain confidential. For exactly this reason.

      Unfortunately we have allowed this principle via the likes of Slater (although he is by no means the only one guilty here) to be totally undermined. It meant that regrettably in practise there was no way this matter was ever going to remain private.

      Is that Sutton’s fault – or do we need to take a look in the hand mirror?

      • John Shears 31.1.1

        At last some logic rather than rant.

      • weka 31.1.2

        “So exactly what is Sutton supposed to have done here?”

        The apology was all about him. He minimised both the complaint and the damage, and defended himself. That suggests that while he feels bad he doesn’t really understand what the issues are here.

        IMO he should either have left the announcement to Rennie, or he should have gotten up and said ‘I apologise unreservedly to the woman concerned and I take full responsibility for my actions and will now be working through how I can change so that I don’t do this again’. He could have padded that out a bit, but basically shouldn’t have been saying anything else.

        His personal rehabilitation is secondary to the wellbeing of the complainant and other women in her situation that might need to make a complaint.

        • RedLogix 31.1.2.1

          The apology was all about him.

          ummm – exactly what is this then?

          I have hurt somebody and I’m very, very sorry about that. I may also have offended other women through my actions and I’m really sorry to them as well.

          Given that he could not name the other party, nor elaborate any detail about what happened – what more do you want?

          You say he ‘minimised’ the complaint. Given that none of know what happened – how can anyone else know this?

          If he had said more everyone would have been all over him for ‘breaking the victim’s confidentiality’ … oh wait.

          Of course what he said had to be about him – he certainly should not have been talking about anyone else or on their behalf. Surely.

          • weka 31.1.2.1.1

            “exactly what is this then?”

            A snippet, out of context, of a longer apology that was predominantly about him. I watched the video before I commented, and I didn’t find that part of it convincing. It also wasn’t an unreserved apology.

            “Given that he could not name the other party, nor elaborate any detail about what happened – what more do you want?”

            I’ve already said what I think he should have done. He should have said he takes full responsibility for his actions, is willing to learn how to change, and apologises unreservedly. Then he should have not said all the other stuff that was about him (and of course he doesn’t have to talk about the harrassment or the woman, that’s a given).

          • felix 31.1.2.1.2

            Red, let’s put a bit of context around it:

            “Hugs, jokes … I do do those things. I have hurt somebody and I’m very, very sorry about that. I may also have offended other women through my actions and I’m really sorry to them as well.

            I’ve never meant any harm. I’ve worked my guts out for the last 3 1/2 years to try and support people in this community. I’m very upset I have hurt people.

            I am who I am. I’ve called women ‘honey’ and ‘sweetie’ and that is wrong. That is a sexist thing to do and I’ll stop doing that.”

            According to the above, the actions Hutton is sorry about are hugs, jokes, and calling people sweetie.

            The problem is we have no idea whether that is the extent of his sins. Sutton is telling us, by way of this apology, that it is.

      • JGG 31.1.3

        I strongly agree with your comments above. There is a very poor standard of reporting and interpretation at present. Like you I very much agreed with Jackie Blue’s comments.

        What we still don’t know is who leaked details the previous week and what their motives were. They are the ones who broke a confidentiality agreement that till then all parties had upheld.

  32. finbar 32

    The new Labour leader,on his first outing as leader, attempting to grab the high ground, and establish himself as a defender of the workers ,entered this present debate about sexism within the work place,and stumbled through it.Lets hope his media coach, teaches him to have the facts and also how to fend off a bias media pack.

    • Chooky 32.1

      what are you on about ?…is this a smear and undermining of Little already?…where is your evidence and citations and links?

      …otherwise you are talking bullshit

      • No it is not a smear, and it is not BS. Andrew Little was quoted front page IN NZH and Stuff either yesterday or the day before on this very matter. If I recall correctly he also said there should be no golden handshake. I wondered at the time if it was wise to enter the fray, but there has been no follow up that I have seen, so that is probably the end of that.

      • finbar 32.1.2

        Not at all.Socialist care cries my tears for our Labour Party.Andrew,has a slack jaw look to his being.

  33. RedBaronCV 33

    Why did John Key discuss this with Rennie? What is the time line around that?
    Does he know something about Sutton that the rest of us don’t?

  34. uenuku 34

    The National party were clearly trying to undermine Sutton, thus the faint praise from Gerry Brownlee, commentary from former National Party MP EEO Commissioner Jackie Blue, whale oil, and failed national party candidate and right wing Blogger Tina Nixon, herself a bully at CERA (as are most managers who call their work environment robust), The sick msd culture at CERA certainly undermined him. And this would account for the anonymous accusations that no one has actually heard or confirmed.
    Clearly Roger was a sexist dick, and guilty of harassment, but this isn’t playing out the way it is for those reasons.

  35. JGG 35

    Structural sexism abounds, whether its in the example of a newsreader’s clothing or in the lack of Princess Leia dolls recently reported, or in a thousand other examples we could find.

    My concern here is with the reporting of process and the trap into which the Standard and all other media seem to have fallen. Great harm has potentially been done by the way in which the complaint has come into the public arena. HOWEVER that was not initiated by Roger Sutton at a press conference.

    The press conference was called AFTER unknown people leaked extensive details of the complaint and the investigation to the media on Weds and Thurs the previous week. No-one seems to care who these people are, their motives or their responsibility for the ensuing public harm.

    In retrospect the press conference was probably a bad idea but the motivation – if one looks at people’s body language – appears sincere. It appears to have been organised in extreme haste in response to the leaks. Some things people are treating as sinister (eg Brownlee’s statement not reflecting ‘serious misconduct’) may be pure stuff-ups caused by the haste. In the case of the statement, perhaps it was approved before the serious misconduct finding was public…..

    All parties were abiding by the confidentiality agreement until the initial anonymous leaks happened. These unknown persons are responsible for turning a confidential process into a toxic and polarising public debate fed by the media cycle. These people ought to be held to account for the harm they have done. Nothing in that sentiment condones Roger Sutton’s admitted actions. This is about holding people to account for another set of harms.

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