Can you privately retract a public apology?

Yvonne Tahana in the NZ Herald reports:

adviser has withdrawn an apology she made to over swearing at him in te reo. …

On Friday, Ms Davidson apologised in writing to Mr Rankin. At that point the commission said its investigation was complete and that appropriate disciplinary action had been taken, although it declined to say what that amounted too.

A day after Ms Davidson’s apology, she allegedly rescinded it in a private email to Mr Rankin, who claims leadership of the Matarahurahu subtribe.

The email stated the issue between them was “confidential” and no media should be involved. It was from a “home computer in my own time and involving no one else except you and I”, she wrote.

“In my personal capacity, I completely withdraw in full the apology that i have made to you in public.”

I think Mr Rankin is right on this issue (I am not a fan of most of what he says). The private e-mail saying you withdraw the public apology, does totally undermine the public apology. What Davidson doesn’t seem to understand is that the sincerity of an apology matters. No one says she has to change her private opinion of anyone – but she should be genuinely sorry that she doesn’t regret the impact on the Human Rights Commission by her behaviour.

I don’t know Ms Davidson, but she seems to be rather stupid. What did she think would happen if she sent that e-mail retracting her public apology. That he wouldn’t complain again? If she ends up getting sacked over this, she’ll only have herself to blame.

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