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.