Cotterill Strongly Rejects

My previous Swimwatch post discussed a number of the Chairman of Swimming New Zealand’s comments. Bruce Cotterill made these in an interview with Stuff reporter Dana Johnannsen. In this post I want to focus on just one claim made in the interview. My purpose is to illustrate the problems of dealing with Swimming New Zealand (SNZ). They indulge in a constant stream of half-truths and compromised honesty.

Dana Johannsen said in her Stuff report that I have been, “the source of constant antagonism towards SNZ for more than a decade. The archive of his blog,” she said, “is a tome of bitterness towards the national body, with his distrust of the leadership spanning multiple regime changes.” The implication of that; the meaning behind a “tome of bitterness” is that I am merely a disgruntled and rancorous whinger. She is inferring that my opinions should be taken with a grain of salt because I’m making them all the time. I would remind Dana of the adage – “bad people get away with bad things when good people do nothing”.

What would Dana have done? Was it wrong to protest when New Zealand’s best swimmers were charged $5,300 each to represent the country at a World Championships? Was it a mistake to highlight the Kapiti girl who lost her front teeth diving into the shallow end of the Kilbirnie Pool? Was it an error to demand Wellington Swimming change the start of races to the deep end? Was it a blunder to point out the deception involved in signing Lauren Boyle’s world record application? Was there fault in highlighting the waste involved in SNZ’s centralised training policy? It took ten years but eventually even SNZ agreed with me and ditched that program. Are there any of those issues that Dana thinks should have been ignored?

And today should we disregard the fact that those running the sport have chosen to flout a recommendation of the Privacy Commission? Is it wrong to be concerned that the CEO and Board of SNZ have received a government agency recommendation that they undertake a program of privacy training? This is a sport involving 5000 young New Zealanders and those responsible for running it are told to go and learn about privacy. Should we pretend that didn’t happen? Because if we do Dana, events occur like a few years ago when I complained about a topless photograph taken in the girls changing room at the national championships and posted on Instagram and the CEO of SNZ told me it wasn’t a problem. Only after I complained to the police did it become a problem.

So, no I do not believe the issues debated on Swimwatch are the ravings of a delusional faultfinder. What is said here might not always be right. But a lot of what is said needs to see the light of day. Which brings me to the comment made by Bruce Cotterill in the Stuff report. Here is what he said.

Cotterill strongly rejects Wright’s assertion that the outcome of the investigation was not shared with him. He says Wright, through his lawyer, was given “feedback” on the findings of the review.”

I need to be honest and confess, this sort of comment makes my blood boil. It is typical of what we used to call, “Auckland white shoes and pink socks yuppies”. Tell a lie strongly enough, tell it smoothly enough and the world will believe. Deflection is the stock in trade of the spin artist.

Cotterill says that I was given “feedback” through my lawyer. I wasn’t. I was in Saudi Arabia when Michael Marris spoke to my lawyer. I only know a conversation took place because a month after I began working in Saudi Arabia and shortly after the phone call between the lawyer and Marris I received the following email from Michael Marris.

On 3/07/2016, at 11:02 PM, Michael Marris <> wrote:

Good morning David

I am in the process of finalising a report to Swimming New Zealand.

As I have assured you from our first meeting, you will certainly receive a copy of that.

As you have been recently unavailable to meet I have discussed, in-depth, my tentative views with (XXXXXXX) (whom I might add, has been a very strong and constructive advocate on your behalf).

I trust this will allow your concerns.

Kind regards

Michael Marris

As you can see the Michael Marris email tells me, the Marris Report was still being finalised, the discussion with my lawyer only involved the investigator’s “tentative views” and I had an assurance that I would receive the final report.

Let’s be clear, the Report was still being finalised when Marris discussed his “tentative views” in a conversation that did not involve me. As we all know “tentative” means “not certain or agreed”. In no way does a phone call, that did not involve me, about views that were still being finalised count as me being – as Cotterill claims – informed about the “outcome of the investigation”. That is dishonest spin.

Doesn’t Cotterill understand the difference between the words “tentative” and “outcome”? Clearly both the lawyer and Michael Marris did not confuse their casual conversation on the phone with my privacy right to the final report. Marris understood that because he said so in the email. The lawyer understood that because he never even mentioned to me the contents of their “tentative” conversation. And neither should he. At that stage the conversation was only hearsay.

Cotterill is clutching at straws. Any excuse for appalling behaviour will do. A phone call, that did not involve me, about tentative findings made while the Report was still being written in no way excuses Cotterill’s decision to interfere in my privacy by denying me access to the finalised Report.

Cotterill’s argument is duplicitous. He dishonestly wants to excuse the Privacy Commission’s findings that I should have access to the Marris Report. He is attempting to avoid explaining why the Privacy Commission found that he is in need of privacy training. But Cotterill’s spin is futile. I am entitled to the Report. The Report’s author promised me a copy. And the law agrees. No swimming pool full of Cotterill spin, no legal manipulation by a highly paid SNZ lawyer will alter that fact. Cotterill – give me the Marris Report.

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