Sexual assault allegations by female law students levelled at top Wellington firm

Victoria University student societies are assessing their relationship with top law firm Russell McVeagh after allegations of sexual assault against its female law students.

The incidents reportedly took place two years ago at social functions, and involved more than one woman.

Victoria University Vice Chancellor, Grant Guilford, told RNZ today, two older lawyers were involved in the incidents, and it had lasting effects on the young women.

"[It] leads to all sorts of emotion - the loss of self confidence," he said.

"But also, guilt, which of course is completely an inappropriate emotion, but is what many of these young women feel."

The police were involved but no charges have resulted.

Newsroom.co.nz, which revealed the allegations on Wednesday, said two incidents happened at Christmas functions and another at the El Horno Bar in Wellington.

The New Zealand Law Society, meanwhile, was unable to confirm whether or not a sexual misconduct complaint has been laid.

Law Society President Kathryn Beck says any form of sexual harassment is totally unacceptable in legal workplaces and there is no doubt that it is covered by legislation, but she was unable to disclose any information about complaints made.

"The purposes of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 are to maintain public confidence in the provision of legal services, to protect consumers of legal services and to recognise the status of the legal profession."

A senior partner at Russell McVeagh, Pip Greenwood, told RNZ the firm's board were aware of the allegations and conducted an internal investigation.

The men involved no longer work at the company, she said.

Some employees at Russell McVeagh were accused of inappropriate behaviour towards two student interns two years ago. Source: 1 NEWS



Thousands of Kiwis eligible for taxpayer-funded Hepatitis C drug aren't accessing it

Thousands of New Zealanders who are eligible for a taxpayer funded Hepatitis C drug are not accessing it as they don't know it exists.

There are more than 50,000 people in New Zealand have Hepatitis C and a staggering half of them, 25,000, are thought to be undiagnosed.

The drug Viekira Pak is used to treat Hepatitis C and claims to have a 95 per cent cure rate.

The drug became fully funded by taxpayers in 2016 and since then 2,500 have been treated.

Around 9,000 people who are eligible for the drug have not come forward.

Hepatitis C is carried by the blood and can be picked up by those who have injected drugs, received a tattoo or piercing which isn't sterile, been in prison, or had a blood transfusion before 1992.

Pharmac Deputy Medical Director, Dr Bryan Betty says: "If you do have Hepatitis there is now an effective cure for the disease. So yes there is a lot of activity going on in this sector to actually raise awareness about the need for testing for high risk patients."

There are more than 50,000 people in NZ diagnosed with the illness. Source: 1 NEWS

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Kayakers rescued from Wellington Harbour after heavy winds separates them from cruise ship

A group of eight tourists have been rescued from a kayaking trip gone wrong in Wellington Harbour after a strong headwind separated them from the cruise ship they were traveling on.

The tourists were traveling on the cruise ship Norrdam and headed out on a guided return kayaking trip this afternoon.

However, a Department of Conservation ranger at the nearby Matiu/Somes Island, in Wellington Harbour, called police when he became concerned by the conditions he saw them paddling into.

A police launch crew was then kept up to date by the ranger on the state of the kayakers while the rescue was undertaken.

An elderly male and female from the group were rescued from the water by officers on the Police launch Lady Elizabeth IV.

One of those pulled from the water was suffering from mild hypothermia and was treated by police staff before being transferred into the care of medical staff on board the cruise ship.

An outbound Bluebridge ferry was also diverted off its course to avoid members of the group as they were being rescued.

The other six members of the kayaking group, who were unfamiliar with the area, were scattered across the main shipping channel, coming ashore at Kau Bay and Mahanga Bay on the Miramar Peninsula.

Some capsized as they approached the shore but none of the group required medical treatment.

Wellington City waterfront. Source: 1 NEWS