Whom to believe

In the Sunday News we read:

A in-house legal adviser helped shape the confidentiality agreement between and ex-girlfriend Kristin Dunne-Powell over what was later publicly revealed as a domestic violence incident, a source close to the case has revealed.

When the scandal broke in July last year, TVNZ said they told Veitch it was a private matter for him and they would help him fi nd his own lawyer.

But has been told the state-owned network’s legal adviser Helen Wild was involved in framing the agreement “on behalf of TVNZ’’, working alongside Veitch’s lawyers to “finalise the best possible terms for Tony’’.

The source said Wild met the then-sports presenter’s lawyers Richard Burrell and Willie Akel in the days leading up to the signing of Veitch’s $150,000 payout, and offered them written advice on the agreement’s wording.

Yet in the Herald on Sunday we read:

TVNZ is fuming over reports questioning some of its executives’ roles in the Tony Veitch saga and has reiterated its full confidence in them and chief executive Rick Ellis.

A report in another publication this week raised allegations that suggested TVNZ executives may have originally been more fully aware of the Veitch assault allegations than publicly acknowledged.

This included an allegation that Veitch signed the Kristin Dunne-Powell confidentiality agreement in a second-floor TVNZ office – well before the case ever became public – and that this took place in front of company representatives.

Last night TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said the confidentiality agreement was not signed in the TVNZ lawyer’s second-floor office. “Nobody at TVNZ had any part in the negotiations concerning the confidentiality agreement.”

So how do you reconcile that? Let’s go back to the Sunday News article:

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said yesterday: “Nobody at TVNZ was involved in any of the negotiations between them (Veitch and Dunne-Powell).

“The only statements we made at the time remain true, accurate and very careful statements of TVNZ’s understanding at the time.”

My reading of this is TVNZ is using near Clintonian definitions to cover up. They are interpreting negotiations as being only between Veitch and Dunne-Powell’s teams.

But if a TVNZ lawyer was sitting in the back room advising the Veitch team as to what to agree to, then that means they are effectively part of the negotiations – just behind the scenes.

TVNZ’s denial is missing the point. The public don’t care about the difference between advising the negotiating team and being part of it. The core issue is were TVNZ staff involved in the confidentially agreement in any way, despite the public statements it was a private matter for Veitch and did not involve his employer.

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