25 Jun Allegations of domestic abuse sees mongrel mobster removed as survivor advisor in inquiry into state abuse
A high-profile gang member has been stood down from his role within the Royal Commission of Inquiry into historic state abuse months after multiple allegations of domestic violence were raised.
Harry Tam, a long-time member of the Mongrel Mob, was the facilitator of the inquiry’s Survivors Advisory Group, a position that gave him the authority to appoint gang-affiliated men and women to the group, and access survivors’ personal information.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in Care released a statement Friday morning stating it was aware of allegations raised against “a staff member” and had commenced an independent investigation, but would not comment on the nature of the allegations. The Commission said the matter has been referred to New Zealand Police.
One of the allegations raised against Tam came from his former long-term partner Charlotte Mildon, who runs her own practice teaching traditional methods of Māori healing in the Hawke’s Bay.
Mildon said she first approached Tam’s boss, executive director Mervin Singham, two months ago with concerns about Tam’s history of domestic violence and his recent alcohol use, hoping Singham would arrange for him to get counselling.
In emails between the two sent in April Mildon detailed several occasions Tam had allegedly been violent with her over the years including in July 2017 at a Wairarapa hotel when police were called and Tam was issued a Police Safety Order to stay away from Mildon for the next three days.
Singham responded he would “need to balance the employment relationship that Harry and I have and any compassionate support I provide him” but was “concerned” for Mildon.
Nearly two months later she emailed him again to tell him, though the two had separated, Tam had been arriving in the middle of the night and coming into her bedroom.
“I would wake up with him standing over me,” she said.
Mildon said she learned later a Wellington woman and survivor of state abuse had also made allegations of Tam’s threatening and violent behaviour to Singham.
It is understood this woman has approached police.
Mildon said she was told Tam had been stood down from his role within the inquiry.
Māori justice campaigner Paora Moyle said the commission’s appointment of Tam to his position reflected to female survivors the commission did not have their “best interests at heart”.
“Mr Tam has a specific skill set and he has a whole lot of people behind him, the hard to reach ones the ones in prison, particularly Māori men … but to give him access to vulnerable women’s information so that he can see where they live, what they do and can cold call them – I think that’s really scary for women.”
Tam was convicted in 1994 of assaulting his wife and was sentenced to three months’ periodic detention and six months’ supervision.
Moyle said the allegations of Tam’s domestic abuse were widely known among communities of survivors.
“Many of these women have come straight from state care into violent relationships, it brings it all home for them very vividly.”
She said when she met with commissioners in February she was under the impression the commissioners would choose the 20 advisors, not hand the responsibility over to the director of research and policy, Harry Tam.
Tam subsequently appointed Rangi Wickliffe who was convicted in 2015 for falsely claiming he shot dead Douglas Witere in April 2014 in the hope he would receive $100,000 from the actual perpetrator, Troy McHugh, and former Papamoa community patrol volunteer, Gregory Molony, who in 2013 was convicted for impersonating a police officer while trying to find a female escort.
“I understand that with survivorship there comes some real hard backgrounds, but you have to consider everybody and their safety and want to step up,” Moyle said.