Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Frank Wood affair

Another Golden Handshake that was being asked about in the House today was that of the erstwhile Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University, Frank Wood. This was embarassing to the government because the handshake was paid to ensure his early retirement after he had had an affair with an overseas student. The potential for mirth was unresistable:
Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister of State Services: Did the former Lincoln University vice-chancellor who resigned last year receive a golden handshake; if so, what was the value of that payment?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of State Services): I am advised that the total remuneration reported in the recent annual report of the State Services Commissioner included salary from January to October 2003. Other contractual entitlements at the last day of duty end in an ex gratia payment made at the discretion of, and within the authority of, the council of Lincoln University after it had received legal advice. I understand that the council decided to make that payment rather than to pay extended sick leave to someone who had that entitlement. I was briefed on the matter after it became clear that there had been an inappropriate relationship with a student and that—

Judith Collins: Obviously not sick enough. [Interruption]
Of the affair itself, Frank Wood had described it in the Press (in October 2003) as being all about table-tennis (the student was a chinese table tennis scholar) apart from one brief, isolated incident. In other words, the athletic duo consumated their affair on the ping-pong table.