22 Oct 2013

Call for change in navy culture

7:04 pm on 22 October 2013

The court martial conviction and sacking of a high-ranking naval officer after a sexual relationship with a subordinate has sparked a new call for a change in the navy's culture.

A court martial found Commodore Kevin Keat guilty last Friday on five charges of breaching orders, by not disclosing the affair, not ending it, and threatening the woman and her daughter.

The court martial ordered Keat be dismissed from the Navy, but he has three weeks to decide if he will appeal.

Wellington employment lawyer Susan Hornsby-Geluk says Commodore Keat is the highest-ranking officer she's heard of being dismissed from the navy in a case involving misuse of power.

"It would be fair to say there is a perception of sexism in the Navy, and I understand that they are doing some things to address that, but of course people would say that it's not fast enough and it's not enough."

Ms Hornsby-Geluk says this case involving a very senior officer should be a wake-up call that more significant and more urgent action is required.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman says the dismissal of Commodore Keat is appropriate. He says the whole episode is disappointing and the dismissal sends a clear message about the standards expected.