'The fox is in the hen house' - Justice Undersecretary Jan Logie

Under-Secretary for Justice Jan Logie says work has already been done to address workplace bullying and harassment - but it’s been ignored.

"Some work was done in the wake of Roger Sutton to bring together all the regulations around sexual harassment in the public service together. I don't have any evidence that anybody's done anything with that," she told Newshub Nation.

She says a recent survey exposing widespread harassment in the legal profession is being "taken seriously right across Government".

"The Minister for Justice has been really clear that he has been looking for evidence that [the Law Society] are going to treat this seriously, and in the absence of that, he is going to step in and order an inquiry."

"We need to look at the fact that the fox is in the hen house and need to look at what are our options for external accountability and investigation."

The voluntary and anonymous survey was conducted by the Criminal Bar Association of NZ (CBA) and 300 people took part, nearly two-thirds of them women.

Almost 90 percent of respondents had either witnessed or experienced some form of harassment or bullying in the workplace.

Ms Logie said whatever steps were taken must be "kind" to those who were coming forward with complaints, acknowledging that victims might fear the repercussions of speaking out.

Of those who reported harassment and bullying, 27 percent said they witnessed or experienced threats, and 28 percent reporting unwanted sexual advances.

According to the respondents, 65 percent of the harassment and bullying came from judges.

"I am deeply worried by that result,"  Ms Logie said.

"In the context of a 1 percent conviction rate for sexual violence in our country, we need to look at this in more detail."

Ms Logie said that there was "potentially an issue" that judges who were harassing or bullying others might not be able to fairly judge cases involving such behaviour.

Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias said she would be discussing the survey results with the Criminal Bar Association.

"Bullying of counsel is not acceptable. That is made clear in the Guidelines for
Judicial Conduct. If it is occurring I and the heads of the bench want to know about it
and we want to stop it."

"If proper standards are not observed, I encourage those who are affected or who
have observed such behaviour to raise their concerns with the head of bench or with
me or to make a complaint to the Independent Judicial Conduct Commissioner."

Newshub Nation.

Watch Newshub Nation 9:30am Saturday/10am Sunday on TV3, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.