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Government’s smacking review misunderstood


Government’s smacking review misunderstood its Terms of Reference, got crucial facts wrong

Investigate magazine has blown open the smacking debate by publishing documents that show the review headed by Nigel Latta was effectively a farce, and that parents have indeed been prosecuted just for a light smack.

That review, whose findings were announced just before Christmas by Prime Minister John Key and Nigel Latta, claimed to have fully examined cases referred to it by lobby group Family First, and discovered the families had not been “honest” about the events leading up to arrest or CYF intervention.

“In all cases”, stated Latta to journalists, there were serious “aggravating features” that the public were unaware of.

Latta highlighted those “aggravating features” in his report, but a joint investigation by Family First and Investigate magazine has found Latta’s review got its facts wrong, and based its misleading and defamatory findings simply on police or CYF complaint sheets, not the outcome of court cases after the evidence had actually been tested.

The end result: Investigate now has documented proof that ordinary parents have been arrested and prosecuted, ultimately, for simply giving a child a light smack – something both Latta and John Key promised had not happened.

For the Prime Minister, the evidence provides a new dilemma – he has previously stated on record that if a parent is prosecuted for a light smack, he will change the law, “it’s as simple as that”.

Among the discoveries by Investigate, the Latta review:

• Misdirected itself as to the scope of its review, and as a consequence failed to meet its Terms of Reference.
• Falsely accused one parent of being convicted of punching a child three times in the head when the charge was, in fact, dropped
• When challenged, CYF claimed to Investigate he had “pleaded guilty” to punching the child three times in the head, when court records showed he had not
• Falsely accused a Waimate couple of beating their daughter causing a “tennis ball size bruise”, even though police documents available to the Latta Review (but ignored by them) showed the allegation was utterly unfounded
• Falsely accused a father of punching his 13 year old daughter in the side of the head and beating her repeatedly with a telephone book, despite a court finding no evidence of such attacks.

Full details of the bombshell development are contained in a 20 page special report in the new issue of Investigate magazine.

Investigate editor Ian Wishart says he’s shocked at what he believes is the incompetence of the three-man review team:

“In my opinion, the Latta Review of the anti-smacking law is nothing short of a disgrace. To fail to fully investigate cases because you have misunderstood your own Terms of Reference, and then to accuse parents of not being ‘honest’, is breathtaking arrogance and perhaps the most spectacular own goal ever scored by a government inquiry in New Zealand.”

For more information, see http://briefingroom.typepadcom/the_briefing_room/2010/05/breaking-news-investigate-magazine-news-releas.html


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