NZ's London cop had been accused of sex harassment

A senior police officer appointed to a prestigious London position had previously been accused of sexually harassing a female police employee.

Police reached a confidential settlement – understood to have totalled at least $20,000 – with the woman, who will be sworn in next month as a Family Court judge.

Sarah Lindsay, of Whakatane, worked for police and lodged a sexual harassment complaint against Gary Smith when he was the Bay of Plenty district commander.

Her allegations were investigated by Howard Broad, who is now the country's top-ranked police officer.

Police headquarters said yesterday that there had "never been a settlement relating to alleged sexual harassment by Superintendent Smith".

It is understood Mr Broad recommended no action be taken against Mr Smith.

Ms Lindsay received the confidential settlement when she left her police job.

The settlement is understood to have related to a number of employment issues she raised before leaving.

Mr Smith's subsequent two-year appointment to the coveted London post has become mired in controversy after The Dominion Post revealed that he got the job 11 months after an Independent Police Conduct Authority report criticised his management of an investigation into the wrongful arrest of a justice of the peace.

It is understood Ms Lindsay's harassment allegations arose during an employment dispute between her and Mr Smith.

Mr Broad, then working in Auckland as an assistant commissioner, was assigned to investigate the allegations and interview Mr Smith.

Ms Lindsay, whose partner is a police prosecutor, subsequently left Bay of Plenty police.

Last month she was appointed a district court judge to work in the Family Court.

When The Dominion Post contacted Mr Smith in London this week he initially prevaricated then said he was "not suggesting at all" that a complaint had not been made by Ms Lindsay when she worked for Bay of Plenty police in about 2003.

He said he would take advice and "my understanding is that these things are confidential".

After Mr Broad's investigation Mr Smith was later reappointed district commander till last year when Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope ordered an independent performance review of Mr Smith's management practices and processes.

Mr Smith failed with an attempted injunction to stop the review and said he was unaware of any other district commander facing a similar review.

Mr Pope chaired the panel that appointed Mr Smith to the London posting. There were six candidates and interviews were done in April.

Mr Pope said yesterday that the matters The Dominion Post was asking about involved obligations on police concerning employment law and other "legally binding matters".

"There has never been a settlement relating to alleged sexual harassment by Superintendent Smith and there are no unresolved matters relating to him involving New Zealand police."

Mr Pope said he was aware of "some alleged historical criticisms" of Mr Smith.

Last year Mr Pope appointed employment law specialist Peter Cullen to conduct a full and independent review of Mr Smith's management practices.

"The report produced by Mr Cullen gave me every confidence to make the appointment of Mr Smith to the London liaison job."

The September 2009 IPCA report said Mr Smith and other senior officers totally mismanaged an internal investigation into a complaint that Tokoroa JP Mii Teokotai was unlawfully arrested in relation to an arson.

Her family plans to sue police for lost earnings after she was fired from her job at the kohanga reo where the fire occurred.

The authority said Mr Smith told Detective Inspector Garth Bryan to investigate Mrs Teokotai's son-in-law's complaint and notify the Police Complaints Authority.

But neither officer notified the authority or the police commissioner and therefore acted unlawfully.

The Dominion Post