Trevor Mallard sued after claiming a rapist was working at Parliament

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Tue, 28 Jan 2020, 5:01PM
The complainant is seeking $400,000 in damages. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Trevor Mallard sued after claiming a rapist was working at Parliament

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Tue, 28 Jan 2020, 5:01PM

Parliament's Speaker Trevor Mallard is being sued following his claim last year that a rapist was working at Parliament.

A Parliamentary worker stood down last May after Mallard's comments is alleging the Speaker defamed him.

The Parliamentary worker has hired Matthew McClelland QC who refused to comment on the defamation proceedings which are seeking $400,000 in general damages, $50,000 in punitive damages and court costs.  Mallard is being represented by a Queen's Counsel from Kensington Swan. The firm's media lawyer Linda Clark, a former TVNZ political editor, is also involved in the case and refused to comment.

It's understood Mallard has been given until mid-February to respond to the papers that have been served on him.

Newstalk ZB has contacted Mallard for comment. 

The man's name, where he lives and the position he held at Parliament have now been suppressed by the High Court.  The same applies to the complainant.

Papers were filed on Mallard just before Christmas by the lawyers acting for the man who was described by the Speaker as a "danger".

The row blew up after a report by Wellington consultant Debbie Francis was made public following her investigation into bullying and harassment at Parliament.  She alleged 14 sexual assaults, three of them serious.

Those who complained were assured of anonymity and were told any material relating to their complaints would be destroyed.

A day after the report was released on May 21 Mallard went on radio saying "we're talking about serious sexual assault, well that for me, that's rape.   That's the impression I got from the report, yes." His reading of the report, he said, was that alleged offences were all committed by one person.

Mallard said at the time he thought the man was still working at Parliament but after meeting with political leaders he announced a worker had been stood down.

"I do not want to cut across any employment or possible police allegations, but I am satisfied that the Parliamentary Service has removed a threat to the safety of women working in the Parliamentary complex," he told journalists at Parliament.  

Mallard said he'd be making no further comment because the matter was under investigation and he hasn't commented about it since.

The initial complaint against the worker, laid two years after an incident occurred, was dismissed as being unsubstantiated in 2018.      

But after Mallard called for women to come forward, the same complainant did so again. Six months after being stood down, another investigation in November found the allegation proved and the man was told not to return to Parliament, his job was terminated.

His colleagues were dismayed as they say no new evidence had been produced and there was no CCTV footage of the man allegedly hugging the woman from behind.

In an exclusive interview with Newstalk ZB and The Herald, just after he was stood down, the man said the hug came after he and the complainant found a piece of equipment they'd lost, and he claims the hug was from the front and in response to a high five which he claimed he was too old fashioned to give.

"It's ironic that the review was about bullying and harassment. I feel I've been bullied out of Parliament and harassed within it, particularly with The Speaker's claim," the man said in the interview at his home.