Someone derailing inquiry: academic

Nicola Atwool.
Nicola Atwool.
A University of Otago academic is concerned some people are ''hell-bent on derailing'' the $2 million ''Glenn Inquiry'' into family violence.

The comments from senior social work lecturer Dr Nicola Atwool - a member of the inquiry's ''advisory think-tank'' - come after Fairfax media revealed at the weekend a decade-old allegation of abuse against the inquiry's millionaire philanthropist backer Sir Owen Glenn.

It was reported on Sunday that Sir Owen entered a plea of no contest after he was charged with abusing a young woman in Hawaii in September 2002.

In a statement to Fairfax, Sir Owen said he denied the allegation and regretted not taking the matter to court, but decided after two years of dispute to resolve the case to avoid further ''horrendous court costs'' and to bring the matter to an end.

The latest setback comes after the inquiry was rocked by the departure of its executive director Ruth Herbert and several panel members over safety concerns for family violence survivors giving evidence to the inquiry. Dr Atwool was concerned the reports about Sir Owen had again shifted the focus away from what was important, which was the prevalence of family violence.

''It's getting really messy and I have to kind of wonder why people seem hellbent on derailing the process,'' she said.

Asked if the ''people'' she was referring to were the media, she said: ''The media play a role, but somebody must be driving it.''

The inquiry was ''bigger than the man who put the money up'', she said.

''If there is something in his past, it would have been better if he had been open about that, but none of us know exactly what happened.''

She was still hopeful the inquiry could help ''make a difference'' and was yet to make a final decision on whether to stick with it.

''It's not a comfortable place to be and I guess I am playing wait-and-see at the moment.''

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

- Additional reporting by APNZ.

 

 

The comments from senior social work lecturer Dr Nicola Atwool - a member of the inquiry's ''advisory think-tank'' - come after Fairfax media revealed at the weekend a decade-old allegation of abuse against the inquiry's millionaire philanthropist backer Sir Owen Glenn.

It was reported on Sunday that Sir Owen entered a plea of no contest after he was charged with abusing a young woman in Hawaii in September 2002.

In a statement to Fairfax, Sir Owen said he denied the allegation and regretted not taking the matter to court, but decided after two years of dispute to resolve the case to avoid further ''horrendous court costs'' and to bring the matter to an end.

The latest setback comes after the inquiry was rocked by the departure of its executive director Ruth Herbert and several panel members over safety concerns for family violence survivors giving evidence to the inquiry. Dr Atwool was concerned the reports about Sir Owen had again shifted the focus away from what was important, which was the prevalence of family violence.

''It's getting really messy and I have to kind of wonder why people seem hellbent on derailing the process,'' she said.

Asked if the ''people'' she was referring to were the media, she said: ''The media play a role, but somebody must be driving it.''

The inquiry was ''bigger than the man who put the money up'', she said.

''If there is something in his past, it would have been better if he had been open about that, but none of us know exactly what happened.''

She was still hopeful the inquiry could help ''make a difference'' and was yet to make a final decision on whether to stick with it.

''It's not a comfortable place to be and I guess I am playing wait-and-see at the moment.''

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

- Additional reporting by APNZ.

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