Speaker apologises to man following ‘rape’ comments

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Parliament’s Speaker Trevor Mallard has apologised for comments he made last year claiming a rapist was working on the premises.

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Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

He made the remarks on RNZ shortly after the release of a report which revealed frequent bullying and harassment at Parliament.

Mallard later told reporters a staffer had been stood down and a “threat to the safety of women” removed.

In a statement released today, Mallard said it was “incorrect” of him to give the impression the man had been accused of rape “as that term is defined in the Crimes Act 1961”.

Mallard had provided a personal apology to the man for the “distress and humiliation” caused to the worker and his family, the statement said.

“Both parties consider this matter is now closed and no further comment will be made.”

The staffer launched legal action against Mallard this year, claiming he had been defamed.

The case goes back to 2018 when Mallard first ordered an independent report into Parliamentary conduct following several high-profile examples of bad behaviour.

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The report, by reviewer Debbie Francis, was [https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/389696/serious-bullying-rife-at-parliament-report

scathing in its denouncement of Parliament’s culture], detailing accounts of serious bullying and sexist behaviour.

The most serious accusations included allegations of sexual harassment, including three cases of serious sexual assault.

Speaking to RNZ the day after the report’s release, Mallard said he believed one person was responsible for the three offences.

“We’re talking about serious sexual assault. Well that, for me, that’s rape,” he said. “That is the impression I get from the report.”

Mallard told RNZ’s Morning Report he did not know who the individual was.

“Reading the report carefully, I get the sense that the man is still on the premises,” he said.

“I don’t know who it is. If I knew… I would tell the police.”

Later that afternoon, Mallard told reporters a female staff member had lodged a complaint about a historical incident and that a worker had been stood down.

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