Officer's bid for court hearing fails

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 12:27 22/01/2014

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A bid by a former police Youth Aid national co-ordinator to have his case alleging senior police officers were involved in his constructive dismissal heard in the Employment Court has failed.

Chris Graveson says he retired as a result of a sustained campaign by police to prevent him doing his job.

Graveson held the rank of inspector when he left the police in 2012 after 36 years as a sworn officer.

He started proceedings in the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), but sought to have his case moved to the Employment Court.

However, in a decision published today, ERA member Trish MacKinnon declined the application.

"Mr Graveson says his retirement was in fact a constructive dismissal brought about by a sustained campaign by police to prevent him from doing his job. This occurred after he had made a complaint of bullying about the officer to whom he reported," the decision said.

Graveson had sought to have the case moved to the court on two grounds.

The first was that the proceedings raised serious allegations against senior police officers and it was in the public interest for those allegations to be determined by the court.

The second was that important questions of law were likely to arise about the scope and jurisdiction of the ERA or court to revisit reports of independent investigations and code of conduct complaints carried out during Graveson's employment.

"Mr Graveson alleges deficiencies in the investigations, including impropriety or bias in the way in which investigations were carried out by persons engaged by the commissioner (of police)," the decision said.

"He also says important questions of law are likely to arise in respect of the admissibility of evidence in relation to these investigations."

The commissioner had said Graveson's complaints were thoroughly investigated, both internally and by senior independent counsel engaged by the police. His complaints had not been upheld in those investigations.

The decision said the ERA was an investigative body which was capable of determining the factual issues before it. It would be helped by competent cross-examination from experienced counsel representing each party.

The ERA was also not restricted to considering matters involving only the lower ranks of the police, or any other organisation.

It was difficult to assess the likelihood of important questions of law, in the absence of what those questions might be or how they related to Graveson's personal grievance claim, the decision said.

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