Another Devious Turn

The saga of the Marris Report took another devious turn this month. The Marris Report was commissioned by Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) to investigate complaints made by Susan Turner and Nikki Johns into my coaching. Four sources involved in the investigation had promised me a copy of the Report.

  1. The Report’s author Michael Marris
  2. The then CEO of SNZ Christian Renford
  3. SNZ Disputes Rules
  4. The law – specifically the Privacy Act 1993

But, for some reason, SNZ refused to send me a copy of the Marris Report. The table below summarises what has happened since then.

I filed a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner requesting access to the Report

The Privacy Commissioner found in my favour and recommended SNZ provide me with a copy of the Report.

SNZ defied the Privacy Commissioner’s recommendation and said, no. That is a huge stain on a public sporting body – to openly defy the Privacy Commissioner. It means no private information is safe with SNZ.

I filed a complaint with the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

SNZ said I could read the Report in their offices on the conditions that I could not take away any of the Report. I could not photocopy or take notes of the content of the Report. The Report could have anything SNZ wanted deleted before I read the Report. I could not discuss anything in the Report with my wife, my family or my friends.

I refused the offer on the grounds the offer fell far short of what the law allowed and what I had been promised. The offer also did not address the damage that had been caused by SNZ’s three year interference in my privacy.

The case is now in the Human Rights Review Tribunal process. I am waiting for a pre-hearing conference call and the hearing itself.

My claim includes a request that the Tribunal order the open publication of the full Report and a claim for $240,300 for damages incurred by SNZ”s interference in my privacy.

When you read the effort SNZ has gone to in order to hide the Marris Report, like me, you must be asking the obvious question – what are they trying to hide?

But then, a month ago, the saga took another new twist. This next table tells you what has happened during the month of August 2019.

On the 5th August 2019 I received an email from Sport NZ telling me they had received a request from an unnamed person for copies of letters and emails sent by Susan Turner to the Minister of Sport and Recreation complaining about my coaching. The information requested included my name. Would I give my permission for Sport NZ to send the emails and letters on to the unnamed person?

On the 5th August 2019 I replied saying that, before I gave my approval, I needed to know the name of the person asking for the information about me.

On the 7th August 2019 Sport NZ replied asking whether they could tell the unnamed person my name when they made the request to disclose their name to me.

On the 7th August 2019 I replied saying that yes Sport NZ could tell the unnamed person my name.

On the 8th August 2019 Sport NZ emailed me to say they were refusing to provide the unnamed person’s name – in order to protect his or her privacy. But could they send on the emails and letters anyway.

On the 8th August 2019 I replied instructing Sport NZ that they did not have my approval to disclose the information requested. It should not be provided. I did not say this but as far as I was concerned if the person wanting access to my personal information would not tell me who he or she was – then they had no business prying into my affairs.

On the 26th August 2019 Sport NZ replied saying, in spite of my refusal, they had decided to send the emails and letters to the unnamed person. They had been sent that day.

On the 26th August 2019 I filed a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner based on a breach of Principle 11 of the Privacy Act – being that Sport NZ had disclosed my private information without my approval – or even worse – in the face of my specific refusal.

Can you believe it? What a double standard.

Sport NZ refuse to provide the name of the person making a request for my personal information because of privacy issues.

And yet, the same Sport NZ, send my name and a pile of my information to the unnamed person against my specific instructions.

I imagine it is fine to ask why the privacy of the person requesting the information is so much more important to Sport NZ than my privacy. Talk about one law for some and another law for the rest of us. Clearly Sport NZ has never heard of all being equal before the law. Everyone is equal, unless you are a well-known critic.

The person requesting the information has some questions to answer as well. How come, whoever they are, is so interested in me but won’t even tell me their name? What is their nefarious intent in accessing my private information? Why is Sport NZ so interested in colluding in their scheme?

These are all questions for the Privacy Commissioner to sort out. I suspect the Privacy Commissioner will find Sport NZ as guilty as SNZ was found a short time ago. Let us hope that, if Sport NZ is found to have breached my privacy, it does not take an appeal to the Human Rights Review Tribunal for them to do what is right.

What all this does show is that the administration of New Zealand sport is NOT in a healthy condition. The appearance of corruption is overwhelming. In this case the bias against a well-known critic appears equally obvious. We will see.

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