Let’s Get One Thing Straight

Swimming New Zealand’s (SNZ) investigation into my coaching is no great secret. I have written about it many times. The investigation was sparked when a West Auckland Aquatics parent (Susan Turner) and swimmer (Nikki Johns) filed the following complaints.

  1. I bullied swimmers on the team.
  2. I was obsessed with Nikki Johns’ breasts and sneaked around the pool taking photographs of her chest.
  3. I recommended swimmers get pregnant to take training advantage of an early increase in blood volume and then have an abortion.
  4. I ordered swimmers to attend an Auckland strip club.

Swimming New Zealand ordered an investigation to be led by an Auckland investigator, Michael Marris. I met Marris on three occasions. I felt his work was at times personally uncomfortable but honest and thorough as he sought to determine the truth. In my opinion he conducted a thorough, able and perceptive investigation. Eventually he completed a Report that was sent to SNZ. I was promised a copy of the Report on four occasions.

  1. Before the investigation by the then CEO of SNZ, Christian Renford.
  2. At the investigation and in writing by the Report’s author, Michael Marris
  3. By SNZ’s “Disputes & Disciplinary Policy”
  4. By the Privacy Act 1993 law.

In spite of these promises, for three years, SNZ have steadfastly refused to provide me with a copy of the Report. The Privacy Commissioner ruled against SNZ and recommended their management (that’s Johns and Cotterill) undertake privacy training. That hasn’t been done.

However, after I submitted my complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, SNZ did offer to allow me to read the Report. Their offer included so many conditions as to make it meaningless.

  1. I could only read a redacted version of the Report that had already been rejected by the Privacy Commissioner.
  2. I could not take notes on its contents
  3. I could not photocopy or photograph its contents
  4. I could not take a copy away from the SNZ office
  5. I could not reveal anything in the Report to anyone except a personal lawyer. That included my family, friends and SNZ members.
  6. SNZ would take “civil proceedings” against me if any of the contents were revealed.

Of course I was unable to accept those conditions and rejected SNZ’s offer. After three years of being told the law prevented SNZ from letting me read the Report, suddenly the law didn’t matter; suddenly I could read the Report even if it was ridiculously conditional. What happened to their version of the law? What happened to all the laws that for three years they had used to avoid me seeing the Report? The offer was a sad and pathetic joke that only served to demonstrate the lies and shallow hypocrisy being peddled by SNZ.

However, in all this, there is one central fact I want to make very clear. There are two aspects of this issue.

  1. The content of the Report
  2. Obtaining a copy of the Report and seeing it made available to the public.

It needs to be stressed that my interest is now only in the second of these items. I have openly been through the investigation. I participated fully with all I was asked to provide. I participated in something like 12 hours of interviews and wrote in the order of 100 emails. I openly discussed the complaints in the national media. I did my bit to honestly and openly cooperate in the SNZ investigation. But now I am done with that.

I will not participate in a rehash of the investigation. I am not into an exercise in double jeopardy. The investigation of complaints made by Susan Turner and Nikki Johns has been dealt with. It is over. All the latter day efforts in the world to question the qualifications of Michael Marris or to add on new complaints will have no effect. Just because the complainers are bad losers, just because they don’t like the result, they will not involve me in their thrashing, desperate efforts to reopen the investigation. I will not participate in a course of events that repeats the investigation over and over until they find someone who will write the report that they want. That is not justice

What I will pursue is the second feature; obtaining an unredacted copy of the Marris Report written after the investigation that can be published for all to read. After three years that is my sole concern. SNZ’s breach of my privacy is now before the Human Rights Review Tribunal. We are waiting to be given a date for a hearing. The purposes are:

  1. To obtain and unredacted copy of the Marris Report
  2. To obtain permission for its findings to be openly and publically available
  3. To be awarded $240,300 in compensation for harm caused.

It is a sad reflection on the management of SNZ that it has come to this. If they had provided me with a copy of the Report immediately after the investigation there would have been no controversy. The issues would have been closed three years ago. There would have been no claim for damages. This mess is down to them.

The hurt for me continues. It really is crazy stuff. However it will continue for as long as SNZ interferes in my privacy by restricting my access to the Marris Report. What SNZ should do about problem complainants is up to them and is none of my concern.

And so much is still to be done to make the Marris findings available . That will continue. But as far as rehashing the investigation is concerned the answer is – no.

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