'I'm horrified': Minister Tracey Martin wants answers over paedophile's presence at meetings

Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin is demanding answers after it was revealed a child sex offender attended meetings at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into state care abuse. 

"I'm pretty horrified. This is a really shocking outcome," Martin, a New Zealand First MP, said after finding out about it in the media Tuesday morning. 

"We made a decision as a Government to bring it into the light and these people have fought for so long with the trauma that they have carried. It's not constructive or healing for them."

The convicted paedophile, who has not been named for legal reasons, attended three meetings with members of the survivors' advisory group earlier this year, Newsroom reports. 

National leader Simon Bridges said it is "impossible to comprehend how a person who has been convicted of such heinous crimes was allowed anywhere near meetings which included survivors of sexual abuse". 

It is understood the convicted paedophile attended the inquiry meetings as the partner of one of the members of the survivors' advisory group, established earlier this year to ensure the inquiry was survivor-focused. 

The commission was told in May the man needed to inform the police about his accommodation arrangements ahead of travelling, Newsroom reports. 

It was at that time the commission became aware of the man's criminal history, because it is understood the disclosure requirement was due to him being listed on the Child Sex Offender Register. 

Bridges said to have a sex offender involved in a Royal Commission of Inquiry "is an abhorrent" and "gross breach of trust by Government". 

He said the survivors "have already been betrayed and let down repeatedly by the state in circumstances similar to the offending by this man". 

Bridges said Martin needs to "be upfront about when she was made aware of this and what action she took". 

"When she found out, she should have ensured immediately that he had absolutely no further connection with this inquiry."

Martin said her reaction to finding out about it was "pretty much the same as Simon Bridges, I imagine". 

"I have severe concerns about their decision-making abilities," she said of the commission. "I've asked my staff what I can do."

The minister said she has asked the Department of Internal Affairs to let her know what powers she has when concerned around decision-making made by commissioners. 

Martin said she expects to receive advice from the department by today. 

"We have to remember that survivors were very clear: They wanted an Independent Royal Commission of Inquiry - that means I have very little powers - and that's exactly what survivors wanted."

Justice Minister Andrew Little said "anybody is going to be concerned" that a convicted paedophile has been allowed to sit in on three meetings. 

"This is the responsibility of Tracey Martin and she is deeply concerned about it."

Little said the commission's credibility has "not been helped" by the resignation last month of its chair, former Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, who will leave in November. 

"It's important that this Royal Commission of Inquiry, which has a long timetable to work to, does its job and gives confidence to people," Little said. 

The inquiry was announced in February last year by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, with the intention of looking into instances of state abuse between 1950 to the end of 1999, and is due to release its first report in 2020.

The scope of the inquiry was extended in November last year to include abuse within faith-based institutions. 

It is expected to cost $78.85 million over a four-year period. 

Newshub.

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