A former High Court judge has been granted unfettered access to the secretive Christian community of Gloriavale, following allegations of sexual abuse and mismanagement.
1 NEWS can reveal that Christchurch-based lawyers Nicholas Davidson QC and Stephanie Grieve have been asked by trustees to hold an independent inquiry of issues arising at Gloriavale.
In a statement, Davidson and Grieve told 1 NEWS that “there is no fetter on that inquiry”.
The pair said the report will go to the trustees “for them to respond as they see fit and it is confidential to them unless they choose to publish in any form”.
The Christian Church Community Trust, which administers the running of Gloriavale, has four internal trustees as well as three independent trustees.
In 2019, a letter was signed by 35 ex-members of Gloriavale, alleging physical, emotional and spiritual abuse, as well as pressure for members to lie to Government agencies like Oranga Tamariki and police.
Former member John Ready filed civil proceedings in the High Court at Greymouth in September last year, seeking the removal of the trustees that govern Gloriavale for poor conduct, mismanagement and dereliction of duty.
Gloriavale Leavers’ Support Trust spokeswoman Liz Gregory said the new inquiry shows the trustees might be trying to "strengthen themselves going forward".
“It's extremely significant. It makes them look like they are doing their duty before the law as trustees.”
Gloriavale did not respond to requests from 1 NEWS to comment, and the independent trustees refused to talk.
Gregory believes the community’s leaders will not want the report to see the light of day as it will uncover “extremely concerning and disturbing information”.
“My guess is it’s going to be buried.”