Navy careers promo used image of woman alleging sexual assault

A former navy officer said she could not recommend it as a career while the culture of harassment continued.
JASON DORDAY/FAIRFAX NZ

A former navy officer said she could not recommend it as a career while the culture of harassment continued.

A former navy officer who quit after complaining about sexual harassment says the navy continued to use her image in publicity promoting the service as a career for women.

The mistaken use of her image for recruitment or staff retention would have lowered her reputation in the eyes of anyone who knew about her complaints, she alleged in a High Court case heard in Wellington on Tuesday.

Her claim against the New Zealand attorney-general and the British Ministry of Defence includes allegations that the publications made her look like a hypocrite, and were callous to the plight of other women.

She said the publications caused her extreme anguish and defamed her.

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The attorney-general has asked the court to end that part of her claim and others relating to the publicity material, with lawyer Peter McKnight saying that, even if some people thought what the woman alleged, the number was so few that it was "a game not worth the candle".

Justice Simon France reserved his decision after a hearing at which the British ministry said the case against it should be heard in the British courts.

The New Zealand attorney-general would agree to the claims against it also being heard in Britain, the court was told.

The woman, whose name was suppressed, served internationally, including a posting that saw her work on British bases and ships.

She said she was raped during the UK stint, and also alleged repeated harassment there and while working with the New Zealand navy, including men betting buckets of KFC takeaway food on whether women could be "conquered".

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The judge was told the man accused of rape denied the claim.

The woman's lawyer, Jol Bates, told the judge that both navies had a duty to provide her with a safe place to work and had failed to protect her human rights.

He said the woman did not have the resources to take a case in Britain, although he agreed there was no evidence about the affordability issue.

 - Stuff

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