7 Mar 2018

Dame Margaret Bazley to head Russell McVeagh review

2:51 pm on 7 March 2018

Dame Margaret Bazley will lead the external review of allegations of sexual misconduct at law firm Russell McVeagh.

Dame Margaret Bazley

Dame Margaret Bazley Photo: Supplied

The firm - which provides legal services to the government - is in the spotlight over serious allegations of sexual misconduct levelled at two senior lawyers at its Wellington office, and separate revelations of alcohol-fuelled sex in a boardroom.

Those allegations and the firm's response will be reviewed, as well as any other claims, and its culture and policies regarding sexual harassment.

Dame Margaret headed the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct in 2007, was a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance and reviewed the legal aid system in 2009.

She was a member of the Waitangi Tribunal for 10 years.

Russell McVeagh chair Malcolm Crotty said women subjected to sexual harassment, as well as current staff and partners, wanted to be assured the review would be thorough.

"We think that Dame Margaret's significant review into police conduct and culture resulting from the Louise Nicholas case will provide that assurance," he said.

She will be assisted by a woman lawyer whose appointment will be announced shortly.

Pip Greenwood, a senior partner at Russell McVeagh, said the firm was "truly sorry and horrified" that the sexual harassment had occurred.

"We are committed to ensuring that such incidents do not happen again. We are extremely grateful to Dame Margaret for agreeing to conduct this review. We have been conscious, in making this appointment, to appoint a person who is truly independent as well as who has experience in such work."

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