Gutless Wonder

I am no lawyer. In fact I couldn’t think of anything worse than spending four years at University memorising all those legal cases. However during the last month or so I have gathered together a fair understanding of the Privacy Act 1993. It has been a case of needs must when the Devil drives. Because Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) insisted on denying me access to the Marris Report into complaints about my coaching I was forced to work my way through the Privacy Act 1993 in order to find out what SNZ was so intent on keeping secret. I still haven’t got the Report. However the end is not far away.

Through this whole Marris Report saga I have been stunned at the effort, time and money Johns and Cotterill have spent hiding the truth. What are they scared of? What shocking revelations are in the Marris Report that they want to keep hidden? Or are they simply difficult bastards who love saying, “No”? I have no idea. If it were me, I’d have handed over the Report three years ago and saved myself all this drama and expense. That, however, is not the Johns and Cotterill way. Fresh air may be the best disinfectant for many – but not for those who run SNZ.

The never ending drama that is SNZ took another turn this week. On Tuesday I got an email from Sport NZ. Would I, they asked approve Sport NZ supplying letters written by West Auckland Aquatics complaining about my coaching? Sport NZ had received an Official Information request asking for the correspondence. Sport NZ’s lawyer was ethical enough to know that the Privacy Act 1993 requires Sport NZ to obtain my approval before they can hand out letters that contain my name.

In that regard I give Sport NZ full credit. In asking for my approval, they were doing the right thing. I don’t know what you would have done. On the one hand I thought, “Who cares if someone finds out what is written in those letters. Of course there are a string of insulting lies about me. But what does that matter? Marris proved the letters were lies. Who cares who reads them?”

And on the other hand my mind argued, “Why should I agree to the West Auckland Aquatics letters being dragged up by someone. The whole thing is three years old. The lies and insults need to be left to die.”

And so I settled on neither option. I decided to ask Sport NZ for the name of the person asking for the information. Who was it that wanted to dig into the West Auckland Aquatics mess all over again? Were they interested in me or in the actions of those that brought West Auckland Aquatics to its knees? Was my coaching coming under the microscope again or was it the actions of some members of a dysfunctional Board? I emailed Sport NZ and explained that I needed to know the name of the person asking for the information before giving approval for information about me being released. In other words I replied with an Official Information request to be supplied with the person’s name.

I think that request was fair enough. If someone wants to know all about me, it’s only fair that I should know who is asking.

Sport NZ replied saying they would ask the person requesting the information for his or her approval to supply me with their name. Could they, Sport NZ asked, tell the person wanting the information about the West Auckland Aquatics letter, my name? I agreed to that. Of course the person could know I wanted to find out their identity before agreeing to them gaining access to the West Auckland Aquatic lies.

Finally yesterday Sport NZ sent me another email. The person requesting the letters would not approve Sport NZ telling me their name – but could Sport NZ provide them with the letters anyway?

I replied today and said, no – not under any circumstances. Here is the relevant paragraph from my email to Sport NZ.

I do not authorise any information that refers to me by name or my position as coach, head coach or board member or to any actions or discussions I am alleged to have had with any other parties (such as, but not limited to, the staff of Swimming New Zealand, West Auckland Aquatics Club swimmers or their parents, members of the West Auckland Aquatics Club Board, the staff of Auckland Swimming, West Wave Pool staff, Michael Marris or the media) in the documents sent to me, is not authorised by me for distribution to any other party. I would consider the disclosure of this personal information to be a breach of the Privacy Act 1993, Principle 11(d). I further advise that a breach of this provision would most certainly be the subject of a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner.

I think that’s pretty clear. In simply language if the person who wants to read all about the West Auckland Aquatic’s troubles wants to stay hidden, then I don’t trust them or their motives. Tell me who you are and I will cooperate. Hide, like Cotterill and Johns hide, and I become ultra-suspicious and a most difficult bastard.

I have no idea how Sport NZ will respond. They have behaved impeccably so far. And that is to their eternal credit. I hope it means they tell their secretive and cowardly petitioner to bugger-off.

I will let you know.

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