Broad: Public can judge me

By Elizabeth Binning

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Police Commissioner Howard Broad expects his fate to be decided "in the court of public opinion" after revelations that a pornographic movie featuring bestiality was shown at his house early in his career.

He hopes the incident will dispel any impression that he is "holier than thou" as he works on introducing a police code of conduct recommended by the recent Dame Margaret Bazley inquiry into the police handling of sexual complaints.

"If I'm not the right person to do this then others will point that out to me," he said.

Mr Broad's comments came during an interview with the Herald last night in which he denied groping a young policewoman, as alleged in today's issue of Investigate magazine.

"That's complete and utter nonsense as far as I'm concerned."

The magazine revealed that a pornographic movie showing bestiality was shown at Mr Broad's house during a rugby fundraiser in 1981.

The commissioner told the Herald he had forgotten about the incident until around midday on Saturday when he had a call from the head of police public affairs about it.

Feeling "pretty low", he called his two deputy commissioners and asked them to come in to work so he could discuss it with them and the public affairs manager.

Despite seeking their advice, Mr Broad said the strategy on how to handle the situation was always clear to him - and that was to "play it straight down the line".

"I can't do anything other than do what I do, which is when confronted by this sort of stuff I'll tell the truth and not try and gild the lily. I didn't want to be seen to be ducking or diving or trying to put a spin on it."

His recollections of the evening weren't "crystal clear" but he was adamant he was not happy about the movie being shown.

"I know quite clearly that I had no knowledge that this bloody film was going to be shown. I had allowed my house to be used for a bunch of rugby people and some invited guests for the showing of rugby films."

He was in the kitchen talking to people when someone came in and said the movie had been screened in the next room. He has no memory of seeing it himself.

"I don't know whether they said it was going on or has gone on but the thing is I moaned about it because I just didn't want that sort of thing being beamed on to the wall of my lounge."

Mr Broad said he complained about the movie to two of the senior men in the rugby team. One was Gordon Hunter, who went on to become an All Black selector, and the other a senior detective called Peter Gibbs, but he never took the matter any further.

"The thing that's reasonably clear in my mind is I didn't ring up the police or report it the next day to a supervisor, which is, by today's standards, the thing that ought to happen. I sort of made it clear that I wasn't happy about it but that's all I did."

Mr Broad said with the benefit of hindsight he would be "in a better space now" if he had reported it.

"I could have stood on my high horse but the way I see myself is that I'm an ordinary New Zealander who happens to be doing an extraordinary job.

"I arrived in the job having lived a life and this part is included in it. I can't deny the historical fact and I have just got to deal with this the best I can."

On whether he thought he was still the right person for the job, he replied: "In some ways the fact that I'm having this experience and the whole ethical questions involved will probably help me effect the changes that have to be made in the next few years [implementing the Code of Conduct] and people will understand the message.

"They won't try and point the finger at me and say that I'm on a soap box or in a holier-than-thou position. I think they are going to see me as a real human being, a New Zealander who is trying their best to produce the best police agency that we can be. If I'm not the right person to do this then others will point that out to me.

"If I'm wrong on this then, as I say, confidence in me will be breached and that will be pointed out and then I'll have to reconsider my circumstances.

"It wasn't my strategy to try to deal with this by counter-threatening law suits and all that stuff. My strategy has been to front up and tell people what I know.

"I think the court of public opinion is where I'll ultimately be judged."

Commissioner has my confidence says PM

Audrey Young and Elizabeth Binning

Prime Minister Helen Clark retains confidence in Police Commissioner Howard Broad, she said last night.

But her reaction yesterday also suggests that confidence in Mr Broad is conditional on the revelations being contained.

Asked about lack of confidence in the commissioner, she said through a spokesman: "It hasn't come to that at this stage on the evidence that I have at the moment."

"What has been revealed tells us a lot about the police culture in the 1980s. Clearly it is an appalling thought that police for so-called fun were watching this kind of thing."

She was confident that if the same thing happened now, there would be strict disciplinary action.

"It shows why a code of conduct is needed - and that is where we are heading."

She said the Government was "reluctant" to condemn Mr Broad for something that he did not know about or approve of.

But the disclosure will be a blow to Government hopes that the focus on police misconduct was behind it after the Bazley report.

Both Helen Clark and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen criticised Investigate magazine.

"Investigate magazine has been out trawling for dirt on anything on anybody for years," she said.

Dr Cullen said editor Ian Wishart was "a delusional paranoid who needs care rather than any other sort of attention".

Helen Clark told the Otago Daily Times it was a "measure of the man" that Mr Broad had admitted the incident.

"I am reluctant to condemn someone who let this happen, albeit without his approval, in his home when he was 23."

Helen Clark said she had "tremendous confidence" in Mr Broad whom she regarded as an exceptionally able commissioner. She accepted his word that he did not approve of the film being shown.

Asked whether she would consider setting up a commission of inquiry to consider the claims in Investigate, she said: "I have never seen anything come from Investigate, on this or any other issue, that warrants further investigation at all."

She was unaware of any other claims in the magazine.

The Minister of Police, Annette King, also gave her backing to Mr Broad.

"I have spoken to the commissioner today and I'm satisfied with his explanation of events and he retains the confidence of the Government," she said.

Mr Broad has the support of his troops, who say the allegations are nothing more than a witch hunt and conspiracy theories.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor called for the public to look at how Mr Broad was performing now, instead of judging him on something that happened more than 20 years ago.

"Howard Broad is becoming a very effective commissioner. He is connecting with the frontline troops and he is getting the support of the troops in a way the last couple of commissioners have really struggled to do.

"A lot of the reason for that is he is actually someone who has come up through the ranks, has been in the police a very long time - since he was 18 - and who has naturally made mistakes along the way.

"The commissioner has never claimed to be perfect and if watching a pornographic movie in the 1970s or 80s was a bar to anyone advancing in any profession, it would be a very, very small number of people eligible for higher office."

John Doesburg, a former Dunedin detective who now works at Land Transport New Zealand, was at the party and said Mr Broad was not a party to the screening.

"I am damn sure it was not part of the planned proceedings, which was watching Ranfurly Shield games."

Mr Doesburg said "some idiot" put the movie on at the end of the rugby video.

There were a lot of people in the room at the time and he did not see who put the movie in the player.

He said he immediately felt uncomfortable and went into the kitchen to get away from the movie.

When told that Mr Broad said he had not seen any of the video, he said: "That is quite possible. To chuck this at Howard's feet is totally unreasonable in my view."

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