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Personal Explanation of David Benson-Pope MP

Released By The Office Of The Prime Minister

Personal Explanation of David Benson-Pope MP
(Note the following was not delivered in the house as there was an objection from the opposition.)

Madam Speaker. I seek leave to make a personal explanation under Standing Order 350 in relation to an answer I gave to a supplementary question on Thursday, 12 May 2005.

Personal Explanation

Madam Speaker. On 12 May last in response to a supplementary question I said:

"I am not aware of any complaint of any kind."

with regard to my 24 years as a secondary teacher.

Yesterday, I received a copy of two documents from the school. One a complaint, and the second, what appears to be a draft response.

I have no recollection of ever having seen this letter of complaint.

Last night, I spoke with the Principal of the time. He told me that he was unsure whether he ever showed me this letter, although he believes he did raise the relevant policy issues with me.

I can confirm that issues around camp policies and procedures were discussed between the Principal, myself and others, and changes were made to camp policy.

Yesterday the school indicated that there was no file copy of any communication with parents to indicate that the complaint was progressed, which is consistent with media reports that suggest that parents did not receive a formal response to their complaint.

The Chairman of the School's Board at the time, Dunedin Police Inspector Dave Campbell, and another Board member, Dunedin lawyer Maryann Taylor, last night told me that they have no recollection of any complaint about me having been referred to the Board, directly or indirectly.

When I answered the question on 12 May 2005, I answered in respect of my knowledge at the time.

Madam Speaker, I remain convinced that my conduct as a teacher was not inappropriate. I do accept, however, that the concerns of some former students were genuinely held and, to them, I offer an apology for any upset.

ENDS

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