The inquiry into the appointment of Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha was never going to ask whether his comments on the Louise Nicholas case made him a good appointment, nor would investigate more recent complaints of workplace bullying. It would look only at whether those who appointed Haumaha knew of Nicholas' concerns.
In her report released yesterday Mary Scholtens, QC, says Police Commissioner Mike Bush did know of Nicholas' concerns but believed they had been resolved. Bush told the inquiry he believed this because he had seen Nicholas talking to Haumaha before Haumaha was promoted to Assistant Commissioner last year and Nicholas had not raised any issues after that appointment.
It was not until Haumaha was made Deputy Commissioner this year that Nicholas made her concerns known, in an interview with the Herald.
But even if she had expressed those concerns to him, Bush told the inquiry, he would not necessarily have shared them with the others on the appointment panel, State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes and his deputy, Debbie Power. They believe Bush should have told them about Nicholas' concerns even though Bush believed those to be resolved. And they are right.
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Commissioner Bush has not come out of this inquiry well. According to Scholtens, his "understanding" was that Nicholas appreciated the work Haumaha did and "accepted she did not have a role in senior police appointments". It sounds like the Commissioner was not in the habit of speaking directly to the woman whose complaint of rape by three policemen has resulted, we are assured, in a profound culture change for the force.
Haumaha had been a colleague of the three accused and had spoken favourably of them to officers investigating Nicholas' complaints. Though he had been told Nicholas still held this against Haumaha, Bush did not bother to discuss this with her before appointing Haumaha assistant commissioner. Bush made an assumption based on seeing Haumaha talking to her.
Now that he knows better, Bush nevertheless does not consider Nicholas' concerns relevant to the appointment of a deputy commissioner, according to Scholtens. The others on the panel were less sure, telling Scholtens Nicholas' objection would not necessarily derail the appointment but they would "work it through properly".
All would have been mindful of natural justice. Haumaha was not accused of wrongdoing. There is no evidence he did anything worse than speak well of the accused. To Scholtens he denied hearsay that he had called Nicholas' accusations "nonsense". He is said to have embraced the culture change urged by the inquiry that followed her case.
Louise Nicholas does not have a veto over police appointments but a prudent police commissioner would have talked to her before promoting Haumaha.
His failure to do so suggests the improvement in police attitudes has still some way to go.