Former prime minister Helen Clark says the board of Russell McVeagh should resign, following the release of an 89-page report into sexual harassment at the law firm.

Dame Margaret Bazley yesterday released the report after interviewing 250 people to get to the bottom of allegations including that five clerks were sexually harassed over the summer of 2015/16.

The report found junior lawyers and other young staff were encouraged to "drink to excess" in that period, in a culture that had instances of crude, drunken and sexually inappropriate behaviour.

Bazley noted failings in the firm's governance and policies, including no code of conduct, which she said contributed to poor management of the incidents.

Advertisement

She was appointed to lead the external review, looking at incidents which occurred through 2015/16.

Allegations included male employees taking part in sexual acts with female intern students who were part of the summer law-clerk programme. There were accusations of a culture of inappropriate sexual behaviour at the firm.

At least two staff members left after allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour towards young, female law-clerk students.

All six of New Zealand's law schools have cut ties with Russell McVeagh after accusations that a culture of sexual harassment was rife within the firm.

Clark weighed in on the issue yesterday on Twitter, saying sexual assaults at one of New Zealand's biggest law firms had "shocked the country".

She said Bazley had delivered "a damning report" on the workplace practice and culture which made the behaviour possible.

"Question is: Why hasn't #RussellMcVeagh's board resigned? Fresh start is imperative," Clark tweeted.

The firm responded to Clark through its Twitter account.

Advertisement

"Good morning - in her review, Dame Margaret said she had faith in our leadership, saying 'the firm has accepted the recommendations set out in this report, and with the leadership of the current board, I am confident it is well-placed to tackle the challenges ahead.' Thanks."

But Clark appeared unimpressed with the response, simple replying there was a "huge trust deficit after what has happened".

Bazley previously headed the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct in 2007, was a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, and reviewed the Legal Aid system in 2009.

She also reviewed the Wellington Rugby Football Union process and protocols for player recruitment, and the management and monitoring of player behaviour, in 2016.