16 Mar 2016

Police happy with settlement outcome

5:04 pm on 16 March 2016

The lawyer who acted for three West Coast police at the centre of an employment dispute last year said they were paid a settlement but the amount remained confidential.

Rural police officer.

Rural police officer. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Former police staff Inspector John Canning and senior sergeant Allyson Ealam plus senior sergeant Philip Barker, had an employment dispute with the Tasman District commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus.

Lawyer Grant Cameron said personal grievance proceedings had been "amicably resolved", but details around the settlement remained confidential.

"The three are subject to confidentiality agreements and can't talk about the settlement, but it was one they willingly entered into and were happy with the outcome," Mr Cameron said.

Mr Canning retired in January, Ms Ealam has resigned and Mr Barker is set to retire.

The dispute was triggered by proposed staff changes in the area and revolved around claims by the three they were victims of a "witch hunt" by Ms Malthus. They launched a $1.5 million defamation case after they claimed she made a series of comments to local media, that portrayed them as incompetent and having failed in their duties.

Mr Cameron said at the time that defamation proceedings were discontinued on cost grounds, and that when police did not want to discuss resolution of the defamation proceedings, his clients had to look at bringing further proceedings in the Employment Court.

A police spokesperson said at the time the claim was misconceived and should not proceed.

Mr Cameron added that investigations revealed employment issues before and after the alleged defamation.