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18th of July 2018

Politics



Victim of Mt Maunganui rape calls for Wally Haumaha to resign as deputy police commissioner over comments

The woman raped by Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum says their former colleague and friend Wally Haumaha should resign as the deputy commissioner of police.

And a former counsellor of Louise Nicholas has written to Police Minister Stuart Nash to say Haumaha is not an "appropriate" person for the senior role.

The Government has opened an inquiry into his appointment after the Herald revealed Haumaha described Shipton as a "big softie" and Schollum as a "legend" with women to Operation Austin detectives investigating Nicholas' allegations the pair raped her.

One officer told the 2004 investigation into the police sex allegations that Haumaha described Nicholas' allegations as "a nonsense" and that "nothing really happened and we have to stick together".

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Nash said he was unaware of the "deeply disappointing" and "unacceptable comments" when he recommended Haumaha for the top job last month, following a recruitment process run by the State Services Commission.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush was on the SSC interview panel and the inquiry, overseen by Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin, will investigate whether all the relevant information was gathered during the recruitment.

Haumaha has since apologised and says he "deeply regrets" the comments he made.

"That does not reflect my view or the values I bring to the job every day."

But the victim of Shipton and Schollum, who was just 20 when she was pack-raped in Mt Maunganui in 1989, said the apology had come "far too late".

"If someone is genuinely sorry, or ashamed, they make amends pretty damn quickly," said the woman.

"This is a deeply felt issue in this country. And it's important to a lot of people. Who wants to sit with a deputy police commissioner who said rape allegations are nonsense?

"[Haumaha] was a senior police officer when he made those comments. When you've got serious allegations put in front of you, as a cop the last thing you should say is 'my mates were good men'. He should have been utterly disgusted and taken it seriously.

"I think he should resign."

Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha. Photo / Stephen Parker. Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha. Photo / Stephen Parker.

Haumaha was close friends with Clint Rickards, Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum when they worked together at the Rotorua police station in the 1980s and 1990s.

He remained friends with them after they left the station and telephoned Rickards - who was by then the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Auckland - shortly after Nicholas publicly alleged in 2004 the trio raped her in group sex sessions.

Her allegations - including being violated with a police baton - triggered an extensive police investigation, Operation Austin, and a Commission of Inquiry into the culture of the police and how sexual assault cases were investigated.

Rickards, Shipton and Schollum claimed the group sex with Nicholas was consensual and were found not guilty at the 2006 trial.

The jury was unaware Shipton and Schollum were already in prison for the Mt Maunganui rape.

The victim of the Mt Maunganui case came forward to Operation Austin after becoming aware of Nicholas' allegations.

In her evidence at the 2005 trial, she said she was lured to a lifeguard tower on the pretext of a lunch date with Shipton.

Instead, she was handcuffed, raped, forced to perform oral sex and violated with a police baton.

In sentencing Shipton and Schollum to 8 ½ and 8 years in prison respectively, Justice Ron Young described them as "corrupt police officers" who treated the victim "like a piece of meat".

Brad Shipton, left, and Robert Schollum in the High Court at Wellington in 2005. They were convicted of rape. Photo / NZ Herald. Brad Shipton, left, and Robert Schollum in the High Court at Wellington in 2005. They were convicted of rape. Photo / NZ Herald.

The Commission of Inquiry, known as the Bazley Report, made 64 recommendations to improve police culture which were put in place over the past 10 years.

Public confidence in the progress would be undermined by Haumaha's appointment in wake of his sceptical attitude to complaints of sexual assault, the Mt Maunganui victim told the Herald yesterday.

"The police have worked really really hard to change the culture at a grass-roots level," she said.

"But if you've got people at the top saying things like Brad Shipton was a 'big softie', Bob Schollum was a 'legend'...They can't keep making mistakes like this. It's really damaging to the police reputation."

The woman said she struggled to find the words to describe the effect of rape on her life.

"I live my life every single day suffering for something which wasn't my fault. And it's not just like a headache. I have to manage my life every single day to make sure I'm okay for my family, to go to work, to run a household, to have social ability. And Louise would be the same."

Louise Nicholas said the senior executive of the police were well aware of her feelings towards Haumaha.

Last year, Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement - who was on the Operation Austin inquiry - asked her what she thought about Haumaha being promoted to assistant commissioner last year.

"I said 'this will come back to bite you on the arse'. And it has," she said yesterday.Her former counsellor, Margaret Craig, yesterday wrote to Police Minister Stuart Nash to say she was struggling with Haumaha's promotion.

She worked closely with Nicholas after former Detective Inspector John Dewar deliberately gave inadmissible evidence twice - aborting both trials - of another police officer Nicholas alleged raped her as a teenager.

Dewar was later convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice for covering up the historic sex allegations against Rickards, Shipton and Schollum when Nicholas first came forward in 1993.

Louise Nicholas has spoken out over Wally Haumaha's appointment. Photo / Mark Mitchell. Louise Nicholas has spoken out over Wally Haumaha's appointment. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

"For Wally Haumaha to describe Shipton and Co as good mates and 'great policemen' just fourteen years ago is me disgraceful and unconscionable. He would have been a police officer with at least ten years experience by that time," Craig wrote in the letter obtained by the Herald.

"I believe Wally Haumaha is not an appropriate person for the position of Deputy Police Commissioner. I do not believe he can dismiss his past actions with a forced apology to Louise Nicholas."

In a statement released before the inquiry was announced, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said Haumaha was a highly respected leader who "deeply regrets" the comments he made during Operation Austin.

"Mr Haumaha recognises that the culture in the police at that time was unacceptable, He has since been a relentless [advocate of] the widespread change in police culture and leadership," said Bush.

"He emphasises our values of empathy, diversity at every opportunity both with staff and the public. He has been recognised several times for this work including a QSM and ONZM."

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