Tew admits an independent voice would have helped Chiefs investigation

RADIO NEW ZEALAND

As New Zealand Rugby admits it didn't handle the Chiefs stripper scandal well, we are finally able to broadcast more details of what the stripper said happened when she performed at their end of season party.

*Graphic warning: Some readers may find details in this story disturbing

NZR Chief Executive Steve Tew says the Chiefs investigation would have benefited from an independent perspective - but has stopped short at saying a new investigation is needed.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Tew said there was no need to "re-litigate" the Chiefs' investigation - believed to be headed by lawyer Keith Binnie - and the report prepared by rugby's governing body was available to police.

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"I am completely satisfied we did enough to find the truth, but given the very  sensitive nature of what we were doing, we weren't very transparent with the findings," Tew said.

"I remain comfortable that the work we did is fine.

"[With] the benefit of hindsight it might have been easier for people to believe us if we had brought someone from the outside to sit alongside us."

Police are revisiting the stripper at the centre of the Chiefs saga but players' association boss says the information ...
ANDY JACKSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Police are revisiting the stripper at the centre of the Chiefs saga but players' association boss says the information reported in the media on Friday are not new.

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STRIPPER WANTS THE MATTER DROPPED

As calls for an independent investigation into the Chiefs stripper scandal continue to grow, the woman at the centre of it all says she doesn't want it investigated by any other agency - and just wants to be left alone.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy says NZ Rugby appeared to want the Chiefs scandal to disappear.
Robert Charles

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy says NZ Rugby appeared to want the Chiefs scandal to disappear.

Police have said they are revisiting her, after an interview with Scarlette was played on radio on Friday.

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She talked about players throwing gravel at her, touching her private parts and shouting obscene chants as they crowded around her.

In a short statement sent through her lawyer, Scarlette detailed how she feels about another investigation.

"She did not make a complaint to the police at the time and she does not intend to make a complaint to the police now. She wants to be left alone and, once again, she asks media to respect her privacy," the statement said.

Speaking of the disturbing allegations played on radio on Friday, Tew said: "A lot of that was in the initial broadcast so had full visibility of what was alleged. We interview[sic] four couples -four men, four women- who were there. He [Keith] reviewed the CCTV footage, so three hours of footage of the room."

RADIO NEW ZEALAND

Former Samoan rugby international Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu backs calls for a culture change in New Zealand rugby, saying: ''You can still love rugby, love the chiefs, and not be a sexist pig.''

Rugby Players' Association boss Rob Nichol says there's nothing new in the information reported in the media on Friday.

Nichol said the allegations were looked at during the investigation and were refuted by the players.

"They were not substantiated by the investigation," Nichol said.

"If the police deem that they need to look at this again, then they absolutely should."

NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew has come under fire for his organisation's handling of the situation.
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew has come under fire for his organisation's handling of the situation.

The information in the interview left Dame Susan Devoy struggling to speak, and will heap more pressure on NZ Rugby, which has been heavily criticised for its handling of the scandal after giving players no punishments beyond a formal caution.

Politicians have slammed the "bogus" investigation, while organisations including the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network and the Human Rights Commission urging the rugby union to sort out how it deals with women.

Following the initial allegations, police said they had spoken to Scarlette on two occasions.

MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

NZ Rugby reveals the findings of its inquiry into the Chiefs stripper scandal.

"At the time she was offered further information and support by police. However based on those discussions, which included consideration of her wishes and the information that was available to us, police at the time were not able to take the matter further."

There was now potential to take the issue further, considering the information released to the public on Friday.

"Given what has been reported in the media today, we will again reach out to her to see if there is any further information she wishes to provide for police to assess," a police spokesperson said.

'WE NEED TO DO MORE'

On Friday afternoon, NZR chief executive Steve Tew announced they would work with women's campaigner Louise Nicholas as the organisation clearly needed to do better in terms of attitudes to women.

"We are working on this area but clearly we need to do more," he said. 

The Human Rights Commission has emailed those who signed their open letter, talking about the next steps NZ Rugby is taking - and the future involvement of HRC and Louise Nicholas in NZ Rugby.

"Steve Tew rang last night and we had a good conversation - this morning he, myself and Louise Nicholas have continued that conversation," the email stated.

"We are looking forward to working with Steve and his team as we move forward.

"These are courageous conversations that all New Zealanders need to have about what kind of country we want New Zealand to be."

'PACK MENTALITY'

In an interview with RNZ last month, further details of which have now been released, Scarlette spoke about the ordeal says she faced on the night.

When she arrived, the players were "beyond drunk" so she had to perform in a garden bar outside, rather than the main building, she said.

"The first thing they said when they saw me was show us your [censored word] so straight off the bat, I went, right, I've got to handle these guys how they want to be handled, because they're not going to listen to me."

After she started her performance, the man she was performing on hit her when she slapped him as part of her routine, she said.

"He hit me back, I told him not to hit me which he did again," she told RNZ.

"He proceeded to touch my vagina multiple times with me telling him not to and eventually having to fight him off. That didn't deter him though, he kept going."

During the performance, Scarlette the players crowded around her with "a real pack mentality kind of thing", she told RNZ.

She said they tried to get their penises out, while they were throwing gravel at her during the performance.

"I'd normally stop just from that, but I felt that I couldn't stop because I've been in situations before where I've been held in rooms, had knives held to me and I didn't want this one to go that way, because if you show your vulnerability they do attack it," she told RNZ.

DEVOY'S DISGUST

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan, who signed the Human Rights Commission's open letter to NZ Rugby, was audibly appalled by the details in the interview, struggling to get her words out.

"I'm just getting over listening to Scarlette's account, actually...disgusting," Devoy told RNZ.

She had signed the letter due to the lack of respect and dignity which had been shown to Scarlette during NZR's investigation.

"It's just been a complete and utter disaster on behalf of the rugby union, and I'd be very concerned for the state of Scarlette at this present time - it's just been a complete shambles.

"It seems that they think they can handle things by themselves and honestly, when I saw the press conference, this looked like they just wanted it all to go away."

'SUPPOSED HEROES' SHOULD LEAD WAY

Devoy said another, independent investigation would be the best way to give the public confidence that the process had been fair and all the issues were out in the open.

The Chiefs and NZ Rugby had an obligation to lead the way on treatment of women, she said.

"I've got four sons, four young adult sons and it's really a challenge to bring up young men, to instruct them as to what is morally right and morally wrong.

"When they see our rugby teams, our supposed heroes - it's really hard as a mother to talk to them...I had to explain to my sons, one of them, that a stripper was an adult entertainer, nothing more, nothing less, and that is actually how she deserves to be treated."

NZR has been criticised for interviewing Scarlette last, rather than first, as part of its investigation, while a woman who claimed to be involved in a similar incident in 2015 was not interviewed at all.

NZR said the stripper had not initially been available to interview.

COURAGEOUS CONVERSATIONS

Tew has admitted they "had not got it right" following the Chiefs stripper scandal.

And Chiefs chairman Dallas Fisher said there would also be a review of how the entire process was handled, including the investigation, by the team bosses and NZ Rugby.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network general manager Fiona McNamara said it was good to see New Zealand Rugby admitting it had dropped the ball and now had the opportunity to take the lead in "transforming harmful sport culture".

"We hope this means Rugby New Zealand will follow up with a robust review of policies and procedures around respectful relationships, as well as taking a critical look at the sport-wide culture towards consent," she said.

Equal Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue said she had spoken to NZR boss Steve Tew on Thursday night and was working with him and the Chiefs moving forward.

"These are courageous conversations that all New Zealanders need to have about what kind of country we want New Zealand to be," Blue said.

Rape survivor and sexual violence survivors advocate Louise Nicholas has also been involved in the discussions.

On Friday, NZ Rugby said the organisation would work with Nicholas on the education programmes for players.

Tew said the organisation could clearly do better in terms of the culture of its players, particularly regarding attitudes to women. He said Dr Blue and Nicholas had been shown the Chiefs' investigation process and they accepted there was no need for the inquiry to be reviewed by NZR.

"We also remain willing to help the police in any way we can and that includes making available the report our senior counsel has prepared.

"Recent events show that attitudes among some of our people towards women leaves a lot to be desired.  

"These views let rugby down."

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED

Speaking from Laos on Thursday, the Prime Minister said there were lessons to be learned from the incident, regardless of the rights or 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."

Meanwhile, Sport NZ head Peter Miskimmin said it was a "disappointing situation".

"The behaviour of the players was clearly inappropriate, and it's right that New Zealand Rugby is taking this seriously."

MINISTERS TIGHT-LIPPED

Minister for Women Louise Upston refused to comment on the case, saying it is "entirely a matter" for the rugby organisation.

And on Friday, Sport Minister Jonathon Coleman followed suit.

A spokeswoman for Coleman said it was an issue for NZ rugby, and the minister would not comment on this specific saga or the culture of sport in New Zealand.

 - Stuff

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