11 Aug 2010

'Floodgates argument' considered in rape complainant decision

11:54 am on 11 August 2010

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson says the Cabinet considered the "floodgates argument" in rejecting a recommendation to pay compensation to women who alleged sexual misconduct by police officers.

The Forum for Complaints of Police Misconduct earlier recommended that Cabinet should consider making an ex-gratia payment to eight women who say they were the victims of sexual assault and rape by police officers.

But the Cabinet has rejected the idea of compensation.

Asked on Radio New Zealand's Morning Report whether the Government declined to pay the victims on the basis of legal advice that more victims might also want money, Mr Finlayson said the floodgates argument, or the consequences, must always be considered.

"We looked at the law, we looked at the notion of an ex-gratia payment and all the circumstances and a decision was made accordingly."

Mr Finlayson has said there was no legal basis for a claim or payment.

Forum outcome patronising, says complainant

A rape victim who was one of eight women who took part in the Forum says it has turned out to be just a patronising pat on the back.

Three men, including two former police officers, were convicted of raping the woman in Mt Maunganui in 1989.

The woman, who cannot be named, says she is considering taking a civil action following the decision to reject financial compensation, and the women would continue to do everything they possibly can.

"This may sound really terrible, but we were all raped lying down, we're not going to lie down anymore. This is just not OK," she told Morning Report.

Mr Finlayson says he can understand why the women now feel aggrieved but he says the service was set up so they could tell their stories, and it is not a question of a court of law where they had to prove some kind of case.

He says it was certainly not set up to give them a patronising pat on the back.

Annette King, who was Labour's police minister when the forum was set up, says the Government is morally obliged to pay compensation.

Ms King says a precedent was set when the Government paid out to people infected with bad blood in the 1990s and to those abused at Lake Alice.