Barry Soper has interviewed the man who has been associated with Trevor Mallard’s claims that there is or was a rapist at Parliament. As one will see, a very different picture is painted from the man stood down.
Barry Soper reports:
Referring last week to the alleged assaults, Mallard said: “We’re talking about serious sexual assault. Well that, for me, that’s rape.”
In a two-hour sit down discussion in his home, the devastated man said: “The accusation of rape has put me in a very dark place.
“I was driving to Parliament the day after the bullying and harassment report on the place was delivered and heard on the radio that a ‘rapist’ could be stalking the corridors and it disturbed me greatly,” he said.
However early that afternoon he realised he was the so-called “rapist” when he was summoned into the office of the Parliamentary Service boss Rafael Gonzalez-Montero to be stood down.
I suspect hundreds of people at Parliament know who he is, as it is easy to work out who is not at work.
“It’s ironic that the review was about bullying and harassment. I feel I’ve been bullied out of Parliament and harassed within it, particularly by the Speaker’s claim,” the teary-eyed man said.
Ironic is one word for it.
The complaint was ruled to be unsubstantiated last year, laid two years after the incident happened.
The man said it resulted from working alongside a colleague at Parliament when a clipboard was lost.
“We searched for the clipboard which was important and with great relief we finally found it. She gave me a high five but being a little old-fashioned I hugged her back, that was honestly all there was to it,” the man said.
Two years later he said she laid a complaint and both of them were interviewed. In a written decision after the investigation last year, her claim that he hugged her from behind, pushing his groin into her, was found to be unsubstantiated and no further action was warranted.
One can’t know exactly what happened, but certainly what is described sounds very different to rape. An unwanted hug is not rape.
Immediately after that he was sent packing from Parliament, with Mallard summoning the media to declare: “I don’t want to cut across any employment or possible police investigation, but I am satisfied that the Parliamentary Service has removed the threat to the safety of women working in the Parliamentary complex.”
The Speaker understood the same man was responsible for the two other claims of serious sexual assault. He later added one of the key dangers is no longer in the building.
Describing someone as a threat to the safety of women is very unwise, when they effectively work for you.
After talking to the man, NewstalkZB saw the finding of the investigation against him, a finding that would usually be kept under wraps by the unimpeachable Parliamentary Service. The finding bore out everything the man had claimed and found the claim against him was unsubstantiated.
Yet he got labeled a rapist.
An experienced defamation lawyer, Hugh Rennie QC, was asked whether the man had been defamed but wouldn’t personalise it to the Speaker, preferring to make his comments in a general sense.
Rennie said the statement that a “threat” has been removed is an allegation of continuing risk which is unjustified on the facts stated. There is no evidence stated of a continuing
threat and to suggest there is, and that the response needed is to be barred from the workplace, is defamatory. …
“There is a public interest in receiving correct information but none in receiving incorrect information. The serious allegations that have been made against this man – not named but readily identifiable in his workplace – are defamatory. On the facts stated it is very unlikely that a defence that this was done in the public interest would succeed,” Rennie said.
And no parliamentary privilege on this.
The distraught man said: “I never thought I would ever find myself in this situation, it’s not who I am, I’m thoroughly devastated. I would like to be able to return to work to clear my name and I expect, at the very least an apology from the Speaker for labelling me as a rapist which I most certainly am not.
The handling of this has been an absolute mess.