The internet tells me corruption is defined as “dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power”. Sadly the word has become debased as politicians like Donald Trump wander about trying to pin the corruption label on good politicians like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren. It is typical Trump. Divert attention on to others to hide his own plan to have the Vice President stay at a Trump resort in Ireland, or arrange for the FBI to build its headquarters across the road from the Trump Washington DC hotel, or order US aircrews to overnight in a Trump property in Scotland. All that is corruption.

But corruption can occur at much more modest levels and for non-financial reasons. Take the effort Cotterill and Johns have gone to in order to hide the Marris Report from me and the membership of Swimming New Zealand (SNZ). Is that corruption?

Let’s look at some facts.

  • Cotterill and Johns know the previous CEO of SNZ promised that I would receive a copy of the Report

  • Cotterill and Johns know the Report’s author in writing promised me a full copy of the Marris Report

  • Cotterill and Johns know that the SNZ rules require the Marris Report be given to me.

  • Cotterill and Johns know the law, the Privacy Act, requires the Marris Report be given to me.

  • Cotterill and Johns were told by the Privacy Commissioner to give the Marris Report to me. They turned him down.

  • Cotterill and Johns told me they had made a promise to Marris that his Report would be kept secret from me. At the same time I received an email from Marris promising me his Report. Someone was lying and it wasn’t Marris.

  • Cotterill and Johns told me they had promised Susan Turner the Report would be kept secret from me. At the same time Susan Turner was reading the Report and discussing its contents with 68,000 Stuff readers.

  • Cotterill and Johns told me that publicity associated with the Report would damage Nikki Johns’ health. At the same time Nikki Johns was discussing the contents of the Report with 3000 followers on her personal Facebook page and posting pictures on Instagram of her topless team mate taken in the women’s changing room at a SNZ national swimming championship.

There is more, but I’m sure you get the idea. There is a Niagara Falls of reasons why the Marris Report, four years ago, should have been given to me to read. But Cotterill and Johns decided no, it wasn’t going to happen. Instead they would conduct a four year war and spend more than $100,000 on legal fees preventing something in that Report being read. What on earth is it that is so important to them that it is worth $100,000 of the government’s money to hide?

And it will be our taxation money that pays for this. Without the help of finance from the government SNZ would never earn enough to fund this ego protection campaign. And if the government is paying for it, the CEO of Sport NZ knows about it. And if that’s true – that’s collusion in corruption.

Clearly there is something in there that they want kept secret. But what is it? One day full access to the Report will reveal what Cotterill and Johns (and Miskimmin maybe) are so intent on keeping secret.

  • Are they scared of Susan Turners’ litigious reputation? That’s a joke given her recent involvement in a $1.4million dollars damages award based on her poor management of a health district in Australia.

  • Was Marris critical of SNZ?

  • Was Marris critical of Cotterill?

  • Was Marris lied to by SNZ?

  • When their secrecy makes SNZ and Sport NZ look so bad why do they continue on? What is it that makes this all worthwhile?

  • Do they want to keep the Report secret because that hurts David Wright?

Who knows? But there has to be something. Which brings me back to the definition of corruption – “dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power”. Because, if the reason that Report is being hidden, if $100,000 is being spent on legal fees in order to protect the personal reputations of Cotterill or anyone else, in my opinion, that is close to the definition of corruption.

And does all this intrigue have anything to do with the decision to replace Cotterill as Chairman of SNZ with Nick Tongue. Why was that done? Cotterll is still on the Board but Chairman no longer. Is he trying to hide as this privacy issue draws to a conclusion? Is Tongue a convenient mouth-piece in what Coterill and Johns expect will be a difficult legal time? Is Tongue the selected fall guy, set up to take the rap for a Cotterill disaster? Has Tongue fallen for a Cotterill duck and dive?

Certainly the whole transfer of power was made in unseemly haste and amazing silence. In the dark of night is barely an adequate description. One minute Cotterill was the boss and the next Tongue was in his place.

In my experience corporate types like Cotteril only relinquish power when personal survival is at stake. Has Cotterill seen the writing on the wall and decided to bail out. It would not be the first time corporate types have fled a sinking ship. They do it all the time. Directors are forever fleeing from Boards six months before their company calls in the receivers. Remember how Nixon fled before he was impeached. Is this a Cotterill version of the same thing? Is he hiding while Tongue takes the rap? I don’t know, is the answer. But if that is what is happening I certainly would not be at all surprised.

Of course Cotterill will have his spin ready. He has to spend more time with his family; his paying directorships require more attention; he has a growing number of speaking engagements. Spin, spin, spin. But is the real reason to avoid the personal stain of corruption? Be careful Nick I think you are being set up.

In twelve months all this privacy thing will have run its course. David Wright or SNZ will have been found right or wrong. Nick Tongue will be a hero or a villain. If, as I expect, Tongue is the villain, the way will be clear for Cotterill to bounce back, as clean as driven snow, and take control again. The swimming guy, Tongue, screwed up. You need a corporate expert to keep you out of trouble. Cotterill is available to save the swimming world again. Is this an exercise in Cotterill telling future corporate gatherings that things went off the rails when he stood down but he returned to put things right. It would not surprise me one little bit if that was the master plan. As I have said, if it is, my guess is Miskimmin, the CEO of Sport NZ, is in on the scheme.

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