Owen Glenn considers position

05:00, Jul 19 2013
Owen Glenn
Owen Glenn

Sir Owen Glenn has confirmed he is reconsidering his personal position in his $2 million inquiry into domestic violence following a "torrent of nasty publicity".

In a statement released by the Glenn Inquiry board chair Bill Wilson today, the board said responding to media allegations  that Glenn assaulted a woman had been a "waste of time and money" and had deprived the inquiry of "substantial" funds.

Fairfax revealed the historic allegations against Glenn earlier this month.

The inquiry founder and multi-million dollar businessman was charged with assault on  his personal assistant Marja Shaw in Hawaii in 2002.

Glenn denies it happened.

He also revealed in an interview on television that he had paid Shaw $80,000 in an employment settlement.
The  assault allegations were the latest in a series of problems to beset the inquiry, including the resignation of its original executive director Ruth Herbert and several other key staff.

At least 27 of the original 38 New Zealand members of the expert think-tank have now resigned - some because of the reported incident in Hawaii and others because they were concerned for submitters' safety.

Kim Workman and Heather Henare have since carried out a safety review - looking into how submitters' personal information was kept private, among other issues.

Released yesterday, the review found some processes were "less than satisfactory". It took particular issue with members using personal smartphones and laptops to record information.

It also found the board lacked members with experience in the domestic violence sector and did not have a sound governance structure.

There was tension between Glenn and Herbert, Workman said - because of their different backgrounds and expectations.

Workman and Henare made 23 recommendations - including ditching the inquiry's expert think-tank, setting up an ethics committee, introducing new safeguards for personal information and getting rid of Glenn's personal communications advisor.

In today's statement, Wilson wrote that the Safety Review "quite clearly" provides independent evidence that the allegations made against Sir Owen were scare-mongering, unfounded and deeply destructive, especially of the confidence of the people who were interviewed.

"Since the first week of June the Inquiry has been considerably deflected in its work by a torrent of nasty publicity directed at Sir Owen personally," it said.

"He has through his Hawaiian lawyers been able to establish the correctness of what he said. He's got nothing to apologise for and he is deeply disappointed at the deflection of the Inquiry's activities and true focus."

It said "very substantial costs" had been incurred which are therefore no longer available to the inquiry.

"The hurt that has been caused to the Inquiry staff has been appalling."

"The Board of the Inquiry sincerely wish that Sir Owen plays a very active role to ensure that the Inquiry contributes to zero tolerance to violence within families."