An inquiry has found evidence of sexual harassment at the Human Rights Commission but says it is not a widespread problem.

Justice Minister Andrew Little released his ministerial review of the commission's handling of sexual harassment claims this afternoon.

The review concluded that sexual harassment occurred within the commission but it was not "prevalent or endemic".

It also said the policy used to investigate harassment cases was "aged and outdated".


And while the commission had upgraded its processes for dealing with complaints, this policy was formed without consultation with staff.

The review by retired Judge Coral Shaw was also critical of the commission's governance and management, saying that there was a deep divide between some staff and managers.

There was a lack of trust in managers to deal appropriately with their complaints, the review said.

Little said the findings revealed a system that "failed to provide proper care and support for sexual harassment claims made by staff".

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, he said it was disappointing that the organisation tasked with championing human rights had been "found wanting".

He said he would now consider appointments to the commission, though he would not say at this point whether Chief Commissioner David Rutherford would stay in his role.

"I've said to him this morning ... the issue of appointments is my priority and I will get back to him about that in fairly short order."

Rutherford's appointment ended in 2016 but has been extended. Whether he was reappointed was set to be decided at the beginning of the year, but was put off until the review was completed.


The report showed that there had been a near-total breakdown in the relationship between Rutherford and at least one other commissioner, Little said.