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Labour should admit it botched teacher sex inquiry

Katherine Rich MP
National Party Education Spokeswoman

14 November 2007

Labour should admit it botched teacher sex inquiry

The Government should just give up and admit that the Ministry of Education made a mistake and should have advised the board of Hato Paora College to direct serious allegations of sexual abuse by a principal to the police, says National's Education spokeswoman, Katherine Rich.

Today in Parliament, Parekura Horomia, answering questions on behalf of Education Minister Chris Carter, continued to back the Minister's statements that the board and Ministry 'took all the appropriate steps' by undertaking an internal investigation of serious sexual abuse allegations rather than leaving such investigations to the police.

"In a bizarre series of answers, Parekura Horomia contradicted not just the views of local police who first heard of the sexual allegations from the media but the view of former Minister of Education Steve Maharey who, back in August when the allegations were first brought to his attention, said that if schools become aware of allegations of criminal activity, they are obliged to alert police.

"Likewise, a Palmerston North police officer was reported as saying sexual allegations against teachers at any school should be reported to police immediately.

"I agree with the Senior Sergeant who said, "Police are the best people to investigate these issues fairly and properly".

"Mr Horomia kept saying it was outrageous that the Opposition would ask questions about this matter. Well, many people would agree that the Ministry's failure to offer the common sense advice to take such allegations to the police should be the real focus of outrage.

"He and Chris Carter continue to overlook the fact that if the Ministry-assisted investigation by the board clearing the principal was so 'thorough' and 'appropriate', why did the police investigation lead to charges being pressed?"

ENDS

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