The head of the Government's new export standards unit is a convicted sex pest demoted by the army for indecent assault.
Allan Kinsella's appointment to the new systems audit, assurance and monitoring directorate has raised eyebrows within the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The 42-year-old former lieutenant colonel was demoted to major and severely reprimanded for indecently assaulting a female officer on a training course in which he was chief instructor.
MPI, the State Services Commission and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy declined to answer detailed questions about Kinsella's appointment, including whether they were aware of his background.
MPI has also refused to say if he was known to director-general Martyn Dunne before his appointment to MPI. Dunne led defence operations in East Timor and Kinsella was part of the deployment.
"The Ministry for Primary Industries does not disclose employment or personal details of individual staff members," a spokeswoman said.
MPI followed a standard recruitment and appointment process, she said.
When hiring directors, the deputy director-general makes a recommendation to appoint, which then requires final sign-off by the director-general.
Until recently Kinsella was working in Dunne's office as a strategy and planning manager. His promotion was announced internally but not made public.
Sources said a lack of detail about his background piqued curiosity among staff, who used the internet to find out more. Some subsequently raised the conviction with management.
"When a director is already an MPI employee, the announcement consists of brief details, such as the name of the successful candidate, and their current MPI role and experience," the spokeswoman said.
Kinsella was a high-flying officer, selected as distinguished master strategist at the US Army's Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, ahead of 100 US army's officers, and nominated as young executive of the year in 2006. He also served in Sierra Leone.
But his career came crashing down in March 2007 after a drinking session in the Waiouru officers' mess. A female officer, who was attending a training course, said the married chief tactics officer came into her bedroom uninvited, and tried to force himself on her.
A court martial heard that he told her: "No-one needs to know, get into bed, I'll do the work and you'll enjoy it."
The woman was engaged to a close friend of Kinsella, who was serving overseas.
He was found not guilty of a second charge of behaving in a disgraceful and indecent manner, relating to allegations he masturbated in her room.
The 2009 hearing at Trentham military base demoted his rank to major, dating back to 2004. His pay was cut from about $120,000 a year to $90,000 but he was allowed to remain at defence headquarters in Wellington.
Four months later a second court martial cleared him of allegations he made sexual advance to another officer's partner. It was claimed he followed the woman into toilets, tried to kiss her and made sexual comments at Waiouru in early 2006.
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