A new inquiry into how three government agencies handled bullying allegations against Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha is needed to restore public confidence, says the National Party.
Chris Bishop MP has written to State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes asking him to investigate the different statements issued by the Justice Ministry, Police and Corrections following a Herald story last week.
Three women working on a joint project walked out of Police National Headquarters because of alleged bullying by Haumaha.
The policy analysts, two from the Justice Ministry, one from Corrections, were based at PNHQ in Wellington working in the Maori, Pacific, Ethnic Services division run by Haumaha, a superintendent at the time.
Alleged verbal bullying contributed to the women leaving PNHQ in June 2016, feeling "devalued and disillusioned". The trio told their managers, did not return to PNHQ, and continued working on the project from the Justice Ministry offices.
Conflicting accounts have emerged about what followed. Corrections said there was no record of alleged bullying, while the Justice Ministry confirmed issues were raised.
"The issues around behaviour were raised at the highest level between the acting chief executive of the ministry, Audrey Sonerson, and Deputy Commissioner of Police Mike Clement," said deputy chief executive Colin Lynch.
"The ministry expected police to follow up this issue appropriately."
And the police say an allegation of bullying was made to Clement by a "third party, external to all agencies".
"Mr Clement immediately made contact with the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Corrections to request more information and advise that the staff involved could make a complaint if they wished," said a police spokesperson.
"But with no formal complaint, or more information, the matter could go no further."
One of the three women told the Herald the trio had raised the matter with their respective managers and the women had believed their managers would handle that.
She said she was never told about the approach by Clement, or asked for a formal complaint.
Since the story broke last week, she has been corresponding with a senior manager from the Police Professional Conduct division about the process to lay a complaint.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush has confirmed his executive team was made aware last Friday of contact between Haumaha and a staff member, who used to work for Haumaha, in relation to the bullying allegations.
One of the women say this officer witnessed a specific incident.
"This will be investigated and we are currently seeking further information about what has occurred to determine what steps are required," said Bush.
The bullying allegations from 2016 could fall into the scope of the inquiry into the process into Haumaha's appointment as deputy commissioner. Mary Scholtens QC will start her inquiry next Monday.
But a separate inquiry was needed to examine the conflicting stories of Justice, Corrections and Police in regards to the three women refusing to work in Police National Headquarters, Bishop told State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes.
"These inconsistencies mean an inquiry by SSC is warranted. It is clear that something has gone fundamentally wrong inside the state sector when three different departments have three different views about how to characterise these women's complaints and what was done about them," wrote Bishop.
"I would ask that the SSC look into the matter to establish and clarify exactly what happened (and what didn't happen).
"Most importantly the [public] must have confidence that agencies will work together, not against each other, in dealing with complaints like these. On the face of it, the public cannot have that confidence, and an inquiry is therefore vital."
Hughes confirmed he had received the letter from Bishop.
"I am considering the issues Mr Bishop has raised and will respond as soon as I am in a position to do so."
Hughes was on the SSC panel, along with Bush, which recommended Haumaha as one of two candidates for the deputy job.
The Scholtens inquiry will look into whether all relevant was provided to, or gather by, the SSC as part of the recruitment process.
Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters announced the inquiry after the Herald revealed controversial comments made by Haumaha about the rape allegations against his friends by Louise Nicholas.