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Navy assault claims could be heard in NZ

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/05/2017
Navy personnel. © Michael Bradley/Getty Images Navy personnel.

A former naval officer has won an initial battle to hear her claims of sexual assault and rape, which occurred in the United Kingdom, heard in a New Zealand court.

Plaintiff X - interim name suppression is in place to protect her and the people she has made allegations against - was a member of the Royal New Zealand Navy from July 2008 until her resignation in November 2012.

From January 2009 till April 2010, X was based in the UK for specialist training. There, she said she was subjected to sustained sexual harassment and two instances of sexual assault, one of which is an allegation of rape, according to a High Court judgement released on Thursday.

On Royal Navy ships she said junior officers were dared to "conquer" service women, with rewards offered. She received "constant and unwarranted approaches for sexual activity" with the knowledge of superior officers. A survey was conducted by male personnel in her presence, as to who wanted to have sex with her, she said.

Although she made no complaints at the time, X said she raised the incidents with her superior officer in New Zealand, who was "dismissive and made inappropriate comments about such conduct and her need to cope with it".

X resigned after she said she was sexually harassed on another RNZN ship.

She has filed proceedings against the Attorney-General of New Zealand, representing the NZ Defence Force, and the Ministry of Defence UK in relation to the allegations.

While the defendants claimed the UK courts were the appropriate place to hear X's claims, Justice Simon France upheld her desire to be heard in a New Zealand court.

"X wore her New Zealand uniform [during her training in the UK] and was paid by the RNZN, remained subject to the RNZN discipline and is a citizen who at all times intended to return to New Zealand."

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