Tracey Martin needs to immediately explain how a convicted paedophile has been allowed to be involved in meetings at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“It is impossible to comprehend how a person who has been convicted of such heinous crimes was allowed anywhere near meetings which included survivors of sexual abuse.

“The offender attended three meetings with members of the survivors’ advisory group. There were red flags early on with an email sent to the organisers saying he needed three days’ notice to tell the police if he needed to travel to attend meetings. That’s because he’s on the Sex Offenders Register and there needed to be assurances he wouldn’t be near children.

“The Royal Commission found out in May that this person had a criminal conviction but it was August before it got further details about what the conviction was for, it was during that time that he attended the meetings. The Royal Commission hasn’t been able to say whether it chased this information, or whether it was volunteered.

“To have this serious sexual offender involved in a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care is an abhorrent and gross breach of trust by Government. The survivors have already been betrayed and let down repeatedly by the State in circumstances similar to the offending by this man.

“When the Prime Minister announced this inquiry she said ‘Any abuse of children is a tragedy, and for those most vulnerable children in state care, it is unconscionable’.

“As a father and a former Crown Prosecutor, I find it unconscionable that a paedophile was allowed anywhere near this Royal Commission.

“Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin needs to be upfront about when she was made aware of this and what action she took. When she found out, she should have ensured immediately that he had absolutely no further connection with this inquiry.

“This is one of the biggest inquiries in New Zealand history, it will cost $78 million. The highly respected Chair has resigned, there have been a range of other issues, and now this. How can anyone now have confidence in this Royal Commission? The Minister must explain.”

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