Otago among universities to cut ties with law firm

The University of Otago has joined the country's other law schools in cutting ties with Russell McVeagh in the wake of a series of accusations that paint a culture of sexual harassment within the firm.

Auckland University, AUT, Waikato, Otago, Victoria and Canterbury universities have all announced they will not allow any Russell McVeagh-related events or recruitment branding on their campuses, according to Newsroom.

In a statement today, Prof Mark Henaghan, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Otago, told students that while Russell McVeagh was conducting an external review, the university had decided to suspend ''all use of its facilities with regard to workshops and student recruitment''.

Prof Henaghan said the university would review its position once the review outcome was known.

''The safety and well-being of our students remains our utmost concern.''

Earlier today, the University of Auckland issued a statement saying its relationship with Russell McVeagh was on hold for the rest of the year.

Newsroom reported that Auckland's Dean of Law, Professor Andrew Stockley, said the school "would not accept any student being subjected to inappropriate behaviour, pressure, or sexual harassment".

Stockley said staff and students were concerned about Russell McVeagh's response to the recent media coverage which did not reflect the change in culture that he had been reassured previously would occur.

"There is widespread feeling that there should have been a much stronger apology and public recognition of the harm that some women law students have experienced, and that the answers reported in the media have been unduly legalistic and narrow," he said.

"As an example, there have been comments made to the effect that there were no formal complaints, that privacy prevents the firm saying more, and that in some cases the women consented."

The most recent accusation against Russell McVeagh was that staff member had sex with students on a boardroom table after a seminar.

In response to that accusation, a Russell McVeagh spokeswoman has previously said the post on social media referred to an incident that took place "more than 10 years ago".

"Due to the consensual nature of the event, a formal complaint was never made. However, it was investigated fully and those involved were reprimanded," she said.

"For a full formal investigation to be initiated we require a formal complaint to be made so that privacy laws are not breached.

"This has limited our ability to prove the alleged misconduct."

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