Do people resign over hugs? Do people resign over sexual misconduct?

Well, the Sutton debacle got off to a very stage managed start. ?But it’s spun totally out of control now.

3 News

3 News

The woman who made a sexual harassment complaint against Cera chief executive Roger Sutton is “torn up” and upset he has been able to foster public sympathy.

The victim has been told by State Services Commission (SSC) lawyers not to speak publicly about the case. She has repeatedly declined to comment when approached by Press.

The Press has obtained details of the complaint from a source that describes the nature of Sutton’s alleged impropriety.

They include:

– Suggesting to young female staff that they participate in “visible G-string Friday”.

– Unwanted, body-press hugs.

– Asking the complainant whom she considered to be “hot” and “sexy” and who she would like to have sex with.

– Calling female staff members “honey” and “sweetie”.

Anyone?promoting “visible G-string Friday” better be working at a strip club.

But the allegations get worse ?

The Press has seen details provided by another Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) employee as part of the SSC investigation into Sutton.

This alleges:

Sutton made a sexually suggestive comment about Prime Minister John Key’s wife, Bronagh, in the presence of the chief executive of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Andrew Kibblewhite.

His SCC boss, Rennie, isn’t well pleased with this

Last night, Rennie said he was considering what action to take against Sutton.

“We’re very disappointed about that and we’ve informed Mr Sutton’s legal adviser,” he said.

“There were matters of serious misconduct and the bulk of the complaint made by the complainant was upheld.”

The Press understands two people provided information during the investigation, conducted by Rennie’s deputy Sandi Beatie.

Rennie said he had met with the complainant and apologised on behalf of the public service.

“Her treatment wasn’t good enough, her hurt was genuine and the behaviour she experienced was not trivial.”

It appears Sutton agreed to keep things quiet, and then hit the media with a huge amount of spin while the other party is sticking to the agreement by not saying anything.


The splashback has now reached beyond Sutton, with SCC supremo Rennie under the gun. ?Key has been drawn?to comment. ? I’m not sure that the public are going to wear this carefully stage managed attempt at giving a cool mil to someone who’s been pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes. ?Also, Rennie is going to have to answer for how this has played out.

Rennie was upset the information was made public.

“I think it’s really unfortunate that information that relates to the complaint has been made public,” Rennie said.

Asked if the assertions by Sutton were correct, Rennie said: “The issue is you can’t look at information in isolation, you have to look at the context.”

In the interview Rennie described the complaint against Sutton as “sexual misconduct” and that the allegations made had “largely” been upheld by the investigation.

Something had to give – Sutton has now been put on gardening leave, and before he gets his $1M golden handshake, is probably not allowed back to work at CERA, ever, again. ?And you can bet your bottom tax paying dollar that any attempt for Sutton to collect on his golden parachute is going to leave blood on the floor at both the SCC and the Prime Mininisters Office.

They really only have tonight to come up with a management plan: ?tough it out, or breach contract with Sutton and face years of litigation: does the ?golden handshake clause survive the good conduct and confidentiality breaches?

What a mess. ?I guess Farrar’s little elves will be busy tonight to take the nation’s pulse on this so Key knows what to think about it tomorrow.


– Michael Wright, Hamish Rutherford, The Press