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Independent assessor to investigate Waiouru claims

11 October 2004 Media Statement
Independent assessor to investigate Waiouru claims

Defence Minister Mark Burton will appoint an independent assessor to examine the responses and comments received relating to alleged abuses at the Waiouru Regular Force Cadet School.

Mark Burton says that this is a crucial next step in responding to issues raised by former cadets of the school.

“The issues that have been raised are serious and complex. They are also historical, with most dating back 25-45 years. It is essential that we deal with these allegations in a serious, professional, credible manner.

“The independent assessor will review relevant historical information held by the Defence Force, as well as information received by my office, Defence, and other parties (including Ian Fraser) in the period since the allegations were raised.

Mark Burton said that an independent assessor would be able to put all claims and views in context and investigate them in a neutral manner.

“The assessor will separate issues of mistreatment from more serious allegations that, even in the context of the time, may amount to criminal offences. A report will then be presented to me. I will consult the Attorney General about the findings, and present the report to Cabinet for consideration of any recommendations for further action.

“Serious criminal offences will be referred to the Police for action, where appropriate.

“We want to ensure that everyone who has concerns can air them and be listened to. Equally, and without diminishing the serious nature of the recent allegations, it must be recognised that many of the cadets who went through training at Waiouru had a positive experience.

“The New Zealand Defence Force now has clear policies and practices in place to ensure that incidents such as those alleged to have taken place at the Waiouru Cadet School are no longer tolerated. A separate review will evaluate those policies and practices, to ensure they are working appropriately,” said Mark Burton.

ENDS

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