Unfit For Office


I have written before about the case I have being considered by the Privacy Commissioner. It is the result of a complaint made about my coaching. SNZ asked me to take part in an investigation headed by a criminal psychotherapist Michael Marris. I agreed on the condition that I would see the Marris report. SNZ gave me that assurance.

The report has been prepared and SNZ are refusing to send me a copy. They have gone back on their promise and, in my opinion, are breaking the law. I complained to the Privacy Commission. We will let them decide on the legal question.

What I want to do here is consider whether the Chairman of Swimming New Zealand (SNZ), Bruce Cotterill, and the CEO, Steve Johns, complied with SNZ’s rules. Because if they didn’t, they are unfit for office.

The rules governing a situation like this are contained in a document called the   “Swimming New Zealand Disputes & Disciplinary Policy”. The balance of this post will ask a question and then, surrounded by a border, will consider what the SNZ rules says should happen and discuss what actually occurred.

Was there a dispute that justified an investigation?

In relation to alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct and Member Protection Policy, this Disputes & Disciplinary Policy shall only apply where:

(c) The alleged breach relates to a complaint made under the Code of Conduct or Member Protection Policy which the complainant knew was untrue;

The relevance of this clause is that SNZ rules make specific mention of investigating and sanctioning complainants who know an accusation is untrue. It is my view that this is what happened in this case. In my opinion two complainants lied to SNZ and to Marris. However I am unable to pursue appropriate redress because SNZ are denying me access to the information required to confirm whether I have been subject to untrue accusations. This needs to be corrected. The accusations are clearly not true. If they were I should never be allowed in a swimming pool again. The problem is I have not seen the report and therefore am unable to seek compensation from those, including SNZ, who participated in the deception.

Was the Marris appointment properly convened?  

Where the Board is satisfied that the dispute meets the criteria in rule 4.2(e) it shall:

(a) Refer the parties to the dispute to mediation to be facilitated by the President or such person suitably qualified to mediate the dispute;

This clause makes it clear that Michael Marris was properly appointed in accordance with the provision of the rules.

Did SNZ follow correct procedures before the hearing?

Documents: any documents upon which any party to the hearing wishes to rely must be sent to the other party and the Panel at least two business days prior to the date convened for the hearing.

The intent of the rules governing SNZ disputes is clearly seen in this provision. Any documents must be sent to the parties involved in the dispute. In my case this did not happen before, during or after the investigation. Cotterill and Johns are in clear breach of SNZ rules.

Did SNZ follow correct procedures during the hearing?

Written submissions: Any party to a hearing (including the CEO and / or CPA) may make any written submissions to the Panel provided that copies of such written submissions are provided to the Panel and the other parties prior to their presentation.

Here again SNZ rules are clear. Submissions to the investigation must be shared by all parties involved in the dispute. Again Cotterill and Johns refused to allow this to happen. Again they are in breach of SNZ rules.

Did SNZ follow correct procedures after the hearing?

9.2 Written Reasons: The Panel will with as little delay as possible after the conclusion of a hearing, contemporaneously provide a written determination to the parties, which sets out the reasons for the determination.

And finally SNZ rules specifically require the conclusions of the hearing be prepared with “as little delay as possible” and distributed to the parties. I am clearly one of the parties to the dispute and have been refused access to the report and its “determination”. Cotterill and Johns refuse to allow this to happen. They are in breach of SNZ rules.

Do the rules of confidentiality prohibit me being provided with the report?

There are two clauses that rule on this matter.

Confidentiality: all hearings before the Panel shall be confidential and any matters discussed shall be held in the strictest confidence between those in attendance at the hearing.


Determinations confidential: All determinations of the Panel shall be confidential between the parties

As if to stress the importance of parties to the dispute being informed, SNZ rules even mention it in both the “Confidentiality” clauses. Confidentiality expressly does not preclude parties involved in the dispute being informed. In my case Cotterill and Johns refuse to allow this to happen. They are in breach of both these SNZ rules.

Why is this important?

(b) In relation to a dispute between Members, make such findings of fact or other such orders which the Panel considers necessary in order to resolve the dispute which may include (but not necessarily be limited to):

(i) Ordering one Member to pay the other Member a sum in compensation which represents any actual financial loss suffered by that Member which is caused by the other Member;

I have redress in SNZ rules for financial loss suffered as a result of this investigation, redress from those who made the complaint and redress from SNZ for the manner in which the complaint has been handled. It is my intention to seek a sum of $25,000 from each of the two complainants and the same amount from SNZ. But to file this claim I need access to the determination. Financial reparations proposed in the rules are being denied because Cotterill and Johns have hidden the report and its conclusions.


These events reflect badly on Bruce Cotterill and Steve Johns. They are in multiple violations of SNZ rules. They may yet be found to be in violation of the law. They have placed the organisation in financial peril. In my opinion they are not fit for office. They would expel any normal member who was guilty of the serial rule violations mentioned in this post.  It is time they expelled themselves.

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