The High Court proceeding brought against Canoe Racing New Zealand (CRNZ) by former member Alan Thompson has ended.
Mr Thompson brought claims in 2022 in judicial review and breach of contract in relation to his expulsion following an investigation of complaints made by three female athletes. He alleged that CRNZ acted unfairly in suspending him, investigating the complaints against him and ultimately expelling him after the independent investigator, Victoria Casey KC, concluded that the alleged conduct occurred.
The High Court, in a judgment of Justice Downs, found that CRNZ acted within its rules in investigating Mr Thompson and recommending his expulsion, and that the process by which he was investigated and expelled was procedurally fair and did not breach any of his rights.
One of Mr Thompson’s claims was upheld: the Court made a declaration that the CRNZ Board’s decision to suspend Mr Thompson was made without giving Mr Thompson an adequate right to be heard after Mr Thompson was given 36 hours to respond to the first complainant’s allegation and the Board’s notice that it was considering a suspension.
The Board accepts that Mr Thompson had limited time from CRNZ’s letter inviting him to respond to the Board’s proposal to provisionally suspend him. CRNZ’s intention was to follow correct procedures. While in Mr Thompson’s case the investigation established the alleged conduct occurred, that may not be the case in every instance and CRNZ acknowledges the importance of ensuring our disciplinary processes are as fair as possible.