NZ Rugby investigation into Chiefs stripper scandal 'bogus', politicians say
New Zealand Rugby's investigation into the Chiefs' stripper scandal has been described as "bogus" by MPs, who say the team has not been held to account.
However, Minister for Women Louise Upston will not comment on the case, saying it is "entirely a matter" for the rugby organisation.
In 2014, Upston said she did not want to be seen as having a feminist agenda in future roles. "I've never called myself a feminist. I'm not interested in being a flag-waver," she said.
NZR has been criticised after announcing its internal investigation found allegations of sexual assault in the scandal had not been proven.
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The Chiefs' end-of-season celebrations at Okoroire hot pools, near Matamata, in early August made headlines after Scarlette, a stripper, alleged she was touched roughly by some players.
The team received a formal caution but no further disciplinary action, despite NZR chief executive Steve Tew describing the situation as "incredibly disturbing".
Upston said it would "not be appropriate" for her to comment on the case or investigation, which was "entirely a matter" for NZ Rugby.
"As Minister for Women I am of course aware of the general media reports of these sorts of issues, where sportspeople have not upheld the high standards we expect of our role models, and where that is proven it is obviously disappointing."
The public "rightly expect our sportspeople to uphold higher standards", while there were wider concerns about the pervasiveness of sexual and family violence in New Zealand.
"That is why the Government is committed to identifying and working through the root causes of both sexual and family violence issues, and we continue to target investment and resources to police and other appropriate agencies," Upston said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said there were lessons to be learned from the incident, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the NZR investigation.
"I'm sure in the cold light of day, not only the Chiefs, but probably the rugby football union has learned quite a few lessons through this.
"And I think the Chiefs would be very disappointed in their behaviour."
John Key said the Chiefs didn't behave properly and the team, as well as other rugby organisations, needed to take a step back and learn from what had happened.
"We're brought up in New Zealand to have respect for women and what looks to be the case in this particular instance is that that wasn't on display."
Labour's sexual violence spokeswoman, Poto Williams, said the NZR investigation had failed to deal properly with the poor behaviour of the Chiefs.
"It seems as though they've kind of left the door open for antics like this to happen in the future," she said.
"Once you just start to leave the door a little bit open, it means that you're providing an opportunity to say there's not much to see here and let's go away, and that's not the case because we really need to [say that] disrespecting anyone in our community is not on."
The behaviour of Chiefs players was "completely out of line" with their stance as role models, and a concern given their good work in the past.
"If we think about the stance that the Chiefs had a few years ago, they were outstanding champions in the area of family violence and were fully participant in the It's Not OK campaign, and they seem to have really fallen off that wagon, so to speak."
Green Party women's affairs spokeswoman Jan Logie said the results of the inquiry were "deeply disappointing".
"They've set up a process that you could describe as bogus and at the end of it said that this woman has misrepresented the situation, which is again putting her in a really terrible situation.
"Not only have they missed the opportunity to apologise to this woman who was treated badly...but they've also gone public and kind of made it worse."
'PUBLICLY SACRIFICED' FOR SPEAKING OUT
The apology to Scarlette for hiring her, but not for her treatment, missed the point, Logie said.
"Stripping per se is not bad, but people not being able to do their job safely is bad...
"We have very high rates of violence against women in this country and we have had far too many public cases of women coming forward with concerns around their safety being publicly sacrificed for speaking out, and sadly I think this is another example of that."
Women's Affairs Minister Louise Upston is out of the country, and has been approached for comment.
Tew has defended the investigation, saying "a very senior lawyer" from NZR had spoken to independent witnesses and found consistent evidence.