Let’s Look At What’s Important

In my previous Swimwatch post I explained why I did not want to rehash the issues involved in the false allegations made about my coaching. It’s not often I agree with the Chairman of Swimming New Zealand (SNZ), Bruce Cotterill. But on this occasion I agree with his view that the complaints made about my coaching were competently addressed three years ago. I have no complaint about the thoroughness and competence of the investigation. In my view Marris was tough, he was fair and ruthlessly sought to determine the truth. That is not to say that the investigation wasn’t personally harrowing. It was.

However what I am interested in now is gaining access to the investigator’s final report. As the recent article written by Dana Johannsen on the Stuff website highlights, the Michael Marris final report contains a huge amount of important personal information. My accusers can complain and lie, moan and distort as long and as often as they like. My answer to them is the same as it is to SNZ. Let’s get the unredacted Marris Report from SNZ. Let’s publish it on Swimwatch and the SNZ website and Facebook page and repost it on my accuser’s Facebook pages. Let’s bring the findings into the open. Let’s see what Michael Marris, an able and competent investigator, has found.

And if my accusers have a new-found problem with the investigator, let’s remember that when the investigation was announced these same accusers agreed to the rules. It’s pretty typical that they would attempt to change the rules, change the game and change the score now that the game is over. I will not allow that to happen. I am not interested in that at all.

My concern is to see and read the results of the investigation we all agreed to. The Privacy Commissioner agrees that access to the report is a legal right protected under the Privacy Act. The Commissioner agrees my privacy has been interfered with. The law says I am right and SNZ is wrong. What this is all about now is having that opinion confirmed; having a Court rule that my privacy was interfered with and obtaining an order that SNZ release to me the unredacted Marris Report.

Let’s do away with the gossip. Let’s abandon the secrecy. Let’s see the conclusions of the Marris Report. If there is stuff in there that I don’t like, if there are opinions SNZ finds distasteful, if my accusers are hurt and upset, too bad. Let’s see what Marris has to say.

According to SNZ rules and the Privacy Commissioner’s decision parties to the investigation should have been shown the Marris Report three years ago. We were not. We should be now. When Cotterill told the Stuff reporter that the Marris Report’s findings were discussed with me – that was not true. I have never discussed the Report’s findings with SNZ or anyone else. Even if the findings had been discussed with me – and they weren’t – there is no way a casual conversation about matters this serious is good enough. Closure requires access to the Marris Report in order to satisfy rights protected by the New Zealand Privacy Act.

The facts are that the Marris Report should have been handled according to the rules of the Privacy Act and SNZ rules three years ago. As the Stuff article this weekend has perfectly highlighted the fact it was not made available to the parties continues to cause hurt and pain. The Stuff article has further increased that hurt and pain. The Stuff article has strengthened immeasurably my claim for damages. Prior to the Stuff article my claim was for $240,600. I had a strong case for compensation at that point. After this weekend my case for damages is immeasurably stronger.

Before concluding this post I do need to thank Cotterill for another comment he made to the Stuff reporter. He said, “There are a lot of issues at play.” In the same news item Stuff also reported as follows:

“Cotterill was unable to clarify whether the report cleared Wright of any wrong-doing, noting the investigation looked into allegations against a number of people.”

The Chairman of SNZ is acknowledging that the Marris Report was not “solely” for the purpose of allocating or withdrawing a benefit from me. In this Stuff report he has acknowledged “multiple issues” and “a number of people”. Two or more purposes, three or more parties and ten possible sanctions are far wider than the “sole” purpose described in the Privacy Act? The investigation had multi parties, multi purposes and multi sanctions. Cotterill has confirmed that In this case the word “sole” in the Act carries no justification for withholding my personal information contained in the Marris Report.

It is also relevant to note that both Nikki Johns and Susan Turner have both seriously compromised their own privacy. When the Stuff website published their article on the investigation and my effort to obtain the Marris Report, Nikki Johns immediately published a link to the Stuff article on her Facebook page and entered into several conversations with her followers discussing the article’s contents. Susan Turner’s daughter posted the same link on Instagram. The secrecy so important to SNZ does not appear to be shared by the two accusers.

I struggle to reconcile the effort made by SNZ to protect the secrecy of those who made false accusations about me when the accusers “out themselves” and make serious public criticisms about the procedures followed by SNZ. The loyalty and secrecy of my accusers, so valued by SNZ, clearly isn’t shared by those they seek to protect. The secrecy used by SNZ to defend interfering in my privacy is not reciprocated by those SNZ is claiming to shield. When my accusers broadcast their views openly on their personal social media pages there is no reason or purpose in SNZ or Stuff protecting their confidentiality.

So thank you Bruce Cotterill. Looks like we can settle this now. Just give me the Marris Report and prepare a cheque for damages of $240,600.

PS: There is also some important advice for my accusers, Susan Turner and Nikki Johns.  Their efforts to lobby the Stuff website for a re-litigation of their false accusations is in contravention of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 Section 26 (2).  This law specifically bans an action called double jeopardy.  The section says no one (including David Wright) who has been acquitted, convicted or pardoned shall be tried for the same circumstances again.

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