Police settle dispute out of court

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2014

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Police officers who threatened to sue their Commissioner Peter Marshall for defamation over comments made about leadership at a Christchurch police station have reached a settlement out of court.

The senior officers who took the action were formerly part of the management team at the Christchurch South Station, where corrupt ex-cop Gordon Stanley Meyer was based while he was offending on the job.

Meyer, 45, was sentenced late last year to nine months home detention after he had admitted offences while he was on duty in 2011 - indecently assaulting an 18-year-old woman and agreeing to accept a bribe, namely an offer of oral sex, to stop investigating a 23-year-old woman for drink-driving.

After Meyer pleaded guilty to the two charges, police national headquarters issued a statement to The Press about a review of operations and leadership at the Christchurch South station, which ran alongside the criminal investigation into Meyer.

The officers claimed the comments were defamatory.

The Press requested the report under the Official Information Act but police refused, citing the impending legal action and that the report's release would inhibit "free and frank opinions" being recorded in future.

The officers' lawyer, Grant Cameron, issued a public statement before Christmas signalling the defamation proceedings would be filed with the courts this month, after the summer break.

However, Cameron said yesterday the matter had been "amicably resolved".

"Suffice to say on returning to work, they had come to an amicable meeting of the minds," he said. "For the balance of their careers, they will be able to continue in their roles very happily."

Cameron said the matter was resolved "rapidly", but the written agreement included a confidentiality clause regarding the dollar figure of the settlement. He said: "My clients are very happy with the settlement."

In Cameron's earlier statement, he said he had a copy of the station report, by Wellington-based Detective Superintendent Steve Vaughan.

"Vaughan's report made it clear that in relation to Meyer's alleged offending, the evidence showed that Meyer acted alone, didn't discuss his offending with anyone and concealed his behaviour from his colleagues," Cameron said.

"It confirms that management practices and procedures at Christchurch South were outstanding and among the highest rated areas in the NZ Police."

A police spokesman confirmed that, "following discussions", an agreement was reached and "all issues are now satisfactorily resolved".

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- The Press

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