Second AUT academic resigns following misconduct claims

Photo: NZ Herald
Professor Nigel Hemmington, who held the title of Pro Vice Chancellor for Research, Enterprise and International, resigned today with immediate effect. Photo: NZ Herald
A second academic at the Auckland University of Technology has resigned following allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Professor Nigel Hemmington, who held the title of Pro Vice Chancellor for Research, Enterprise and International, resigned today with immediate effect, Stuff reported.

The senior academic was on suspension pending an investigation into his alleged inappropriate behaviour, following claims of long-running conversations with colleagues on his intimate life and practising of Shibari, a form of Japanese rope bondage.

Stuff reported Hemmington showed pictures of himself bound in ropes to colleagues, with one staff member claiming to hear intimate details of Hemmington's life daily.

A formal complaint was laid against him in 2019, but was not acted upon after the complainant left AUT afterwards, Stuff reported.

It follows the resignation of Dr Max Abbott from his roles at AUT less than a month ago, following claims of sexual harassment and stalking.

Abbot's colleague, Dr Marisa Paterson, director of the Centre for Gambling Research at Canberra's Australian National University (ANU), laid a complaint against him last August.

The complaint detailed allegations of "prolonged and persistent stalking, sexual harassment, physical harassment and bullying" by Abbott over a two-year period.

On June 2, Abbott resigned as AUT's Dean of the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences Professor, saying recent media publicity and reactions of some to it made his role untenable.

At the time, Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack said Abbott would continue as a professor at the university.

Just under three weeks later, Abbott resigned from all roles at AUT with immediate effect.

McCormack said on June 2 it was essential that all staff and students have full confidence in its approaches to preventing and dealing with harassment.

"We want to be certain we are a place where all of our people feel welcome, safe and able to succeed - and able to raise concerns if that's not the case."

McCormack said he understood media coverage of the sexual harassment allegations had raised concerns, but he said claims that AUT had not investigated the allegation were untrue.

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