INDEPENDENT NEWS

Process results in one sided and unreliable report

Published: Thu 22 Mar 2018 10:52 AM
Process results in one sided and unreliable report that effectively denied Dr Murray the right to give evidence and fairly contribute to this inquiry.
The findings of the State Services Commission investigation into spending by former Waikato DHB CEO Dr Nigel Murray are rejected as one-sided, unjust and we believe have resulted from a flawed process.
Dr Murray’s legal advisors, Cullen – The Employment Law Firm, are deeply concerned that the investigation has breached accepted standards of proper process and fell well below the requirements of natural justice, transparency and fairness.
“Witnesses were allowed to give evidence in secret, and basic steps such as providing the complete statements of witnesses were not taken. Dr Murray still has no real idea what the witnesses have said about him apart from a limited number of extracts, some of which he has only very recently seen. How can he be expected to respond in those circumstances?” they say.
“It was quite unfair for the investigator to insist that his inquiry should proceed while the Serious Fraud Office was conducting its own investigation into the same issues. Mr Ombler accepts Dr Murray was entitled to refuse to participate in his investigation given the SFO investigation. Dr Murray followed legal advice in not participating in Mr Ombler’s investigation. However Dr Murray, at all times indicated his willingness to participate in the investigation and give full and frank answers once the SFO had completed its investigation. However the investigator refused this and Dr Murray was denied the opportunity to respond. If he had been given that right of reply the outcomes of this inquiry would most likely be quite different.
“The investigator has also made very confusing findings as to which expenses are unauthorised and/or are unjustified which are easily misunderstood. Mr Ombler has categorised certain expenses, which were according to agreed practice retrospectively authorised by the former Chair Mr Bob Simcock, as being unauthorised. We must emphasise that Mr Ombler’s report does not decide any civil or criminal liability.
“The findings have held Dr Murray to an artificially high standard and neglected the day to day practicalities of the approval process.
“For these reasons we consider that the report is one-sided and flawed. Dr Murray would nonetheless like to publicly express his regret and apologise for mistakes made over his expenses. Some expense forms were completed in a way that the justification was not fully obvious. Some expenses were not processed in a timely manner. He takes accountability for these errors.
“Dr Murray has agreed to pay the remaining amounts of $20,493.85 claimed by the Board which were in dispute. Dr Murray does this despite legal advice that he has a good defence for not paying these amounts. Dr Murray does this with a denial of liability. He does so as an act of good will and to resolve matters with his old employer, the Waikato DHB.
“The public needed and deserved a report that fully explored all of the issues regarding expenses. That has not occurred in large part because Dr Murray was unable to participate. We are surprised and disappointed the State Services Commissioner has released a report which we believe is neither accurate nor reliable. We will shortly be lodging a complaint with the Ombudsman regarding the investigation’s unfairness.”
“There will be no further comment.
Cullen – the Employment Law Firm
ends

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