Services Commissioner Iain Rennie has confirmed Roger Sutton has chosen to resign as Chief Executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).
The State Services Commission (SSC) has carried out an investigation into Mr Sutton’s conduct following a complaint from a CERA staff member.
“I expect high standards of Public Service chief executives and I take any complaints of inappropriate conduct very seriously,” Mr Rennie said.
“Every State servant must be able to work in a safe environment where they are treated with professionalism and respect,” he said.
The investigation report was provided to the Commissioner. However, Mr Sutton offered his resignation and this was accepted. While the report found that Mr Sutton’s conduct did not always meet the standard expected of public service leaders, it did not recommend dismissal. Although not called on to make any decision in relation to the report, the Commissioner is very likely to have followed the recommendation not to dismiss Mr Sutton.
“I respect Mr Sutton’s decision and acknowledge that this was a very difficult call to make for someone who is so committed to the Canterbury community,” Mr Rennie said.
“Mr Sutton has made an outstanding contribution to Canterbury as Chief Executive of CERA since 2011 and he leaves a strong legacy to his successor. His visible and engaged leadership during challenging times will be remembered well for many years”.
“Greater Christchurch’s recovery continues to be a major focus for the Public Service and Mr Sutton’s resignation will not affect the work to make that happen or the role of CERA,” he said.
“Throughout this process, SSC has worked with CERA to ensure the complainant has been supported and will receive any ongoing support required,” said Mr Rennie. “As his employer, we have also provided support to Mr Sutton,” Mr Rennie said.
To protect the privacy of the parties involved in this complaint and to respect undertakings of confidentiality, the investigation report and details of the exact nature of the complaint will not be released.
“I expect every government agency to have clear policies and processes to deal with complaints fairly and confidentially, and to provide appropriate support to complainants and those whose conduct is investigated,” Mr Rennie said.
Mr Sutton has decided that a natural point for a change of leadership for CERA is the date at which CERA transitions from being a Public Service department to being a departmental agency hosted by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Therefore, he will cease to be Chief Executive of CERA on 31 January 2015, the day before the departmental agency is formed.
Arrangements for an Acting Chief Executive for CERA from 1 February 2015 and the recruitment process for the ongoing Chief Executive of CERA will be advised shortly.
“This will no doubt be a difficult time for the people who work for CERA. SSC will be working closely with the senior leadership team to ensure CERA staff are well supported and can continue with the excellent work they are doing,” Mr Rennie said.
The Press reports:
. . . He had been under investigation for the last seven weeks after a complaint of sexual harassment from a senior staff member.
The allegation accused him of making inappropriate jokes and comments, and giving her an unwelcome hug. . .
That sort of behaviour complained of would have been common-place, and at least tolerated, in many workplaces not too long ago.
It isn’t now, although it’s not always black and white. What someone finds unwelcome and/or offensive might not concern someone else.
However, a CEO must lead by example and be above reproof.