John Jamieson – The Undertaker

John Jamieson’s appointment as the head of the New Zealand Catholic Churches National Office for Professional Standards ( was not surprising. The media reports were quick to point out that Jamieson is not a Catholic; an attempt to imply true independence. Jamieson of course was on the face of it qualified, having been a senior Police officer.

The underlying qualification of interest to the Bishops at the time however would have been far more sinister. Jamieson had ruled over a particularly corrupt period in the New Zealand Police forces history from 1989 to 1993 as Commissioner and prior to that during the 1980’s as District Commander, Christchurch. Later revealed was the fact that throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s Police hierarchy had been complicit in covering up serious misconduct and sexual abuse perpetrated by police officers in Christchurch, Dunedin and Rotorua.

Jamieson and his minions were very successful in burying scandals. Jamieson additionally oversaw the creation and maintenance of a particularly sick culture in the Christchurch C.I.B. The very same C.I.B that saw the staff in the now infamous Civic Creche case falsely accused and outrageously charged .  In the minds of a high percentage of New Zealanders Peter Ellis was wrongly convicted and the investigation tainted by incompetence and misconduct on the part of the investigating Police Officers; all under Jamieson’s watch.

John Jamieson

The fact that Jamieson was not a Catholic, whilst no doubt helpful to the Church in establishing the illusion of independence, has always been totally irrelevant. Jamieson had for many years fostered a very close association with senior clergy, in the past using this access for his own sinister benefit and that of his corrupt subordinates.

The writer’s interest is twofold, having been in a Catholic Institution as a child and the victim of abuse. Secondly, having personal experience of Jamieson’s use of his connections with senior clergy, Bishops Brian Ashby and Denis Hanrahan to thwart efforts to bring an end to the offending of corrupt policeman Constable Stanley Matthew Willcox.

Bishop Brian Ashby

At the time 24 years old and having recently returned from Australia where I had been working towards entering seminary and had decided to train in New Zealand. My reasons were simple I had a strong but naive desire to bring change to the church that was responsible for my own suffering.

My younger brothers, in addition to the abuse at the hands of  the Catholic Church, were being subjected to serious ongoing Police misconduct; assaults and prosecutorial abuse, the charges all false and manufactured by Officer Stanley Matthew Willcox as revenge for one of them having given evidence against him in an assault trial. Willcox was found guilty but discharged without conviction.

On one particular occasion in 1985 I arranged a meeting with Jamieson in his office on a day one of my brothers had yet again been arrested; set up by Willcox for allegedly spitting at a parking officer. I expressed my strong concern that the allegation was false, that Willcox had set it up, was corrupt and that this ongoing harassment needed to be investigated and brought to an end.

Within hours of that meeting I received a telephone call from Father Mile’s O’Malley,  spiritual director. O’Malley wanted a meeting in his office at the Cathedral the following morning.

At that meeting O’Malley told me that I had to immediately distance myself from my brothers if I still wished to be a Priest. When asked for an explanation O’Malley simply said that they had received a telephone call; he refused to expand on his peculiar request or in fact who it was that had called; there were however no prizes for guessing. O’Malley is the Police chaplain.

Fr Miles O’Malley, All’s well in Halswell

Subsequently,  my decision was not to distance myself from my brothers, they needed support. Within a week I made the decision to leave the church. It was obvious that John Jamieson had made the call to the Bishop or O’Malley.

At a second meeting wherein O’Malley was informed of my decision a heated exchange developed. O’Malley was furious and his own personal resentment and malice became evident; “Good riddance you’re the last of the blue-blood Catholics” he screamed – all the more shocking given the history, Miles O’Malley had had  with the family, having attended St Bedes with my father, O’Malley’s  father Roy a close friend of my grandfathers,. O’Malley often given to use the expression; “all’s well in Halswell” a turn of phrase long associated with the families philanthropy; long given to build welfare and education in Canterbury.

This  poetic turn of phrase first attributed to Bishop Matthew Brodie who often dined with the family patriarch on Sunday’s at the Halswell homestead following Mass. The phrase is in use to this day; regrettably by local Real estate agents. Needless to say I was shocked at O’Malley’s self indulgent display of  jealousy, although it offered a rare insight into the bitterness that clergy often harbour and  in a strange way it was reassuring; in that I was to, obviously, make the right decision.

Of equal concern and very much a part of my decision was the fact that like the Police the church at a very senior level was prepared to deal in the dark side and apparently not at all interested in justice.

At that time I formed the view that John Jamieson was corrupt, a view I hold to this day a view that was to be irrevocably entrenched in

Matthew Joseph Brodie

1988 – 1989  by Jamieson’s handling of further serious criminal offending by his officers whilst he held the Office of Commissioner – one of those officers the now promoted Detective Stanley Matthew Willcox, the very same bent cop, whose criminal offending,  Jamieson had worked to conceal four years earlier.

It is also worth noting that many Solicitors representing the victims of abuse hold the view that the New Zealand Government is also culpable. Many of the institutions where serious abuse occurred were supposed to have been supervised by various Government Departments and required regular inspections and or audits – which in my personal experience and that of the Solicitors I have spoken with never occurred.

Another very good reason for Jamieson’s selection, on the face of it the Government also had good reason to conceal the offending, particularly when some Solicitors may have been openly pointing the finger in that direction – in my own personal experience the Government would have doubtless seized the opportunity to discredit the victims had they started to emerge from the woodwork in serious numbers.

My advice to those men and women who have suffered at the hands of the church and quite possibly later at the hands of a less than sympathetic and corrupt police force is to avoid, at all cost, any investigation of their cases by John Jamieson.

I believe that Jamieson’s brief in his current position within the Church has never been about bringing  justice, change or closure. It is far more likely to have been a cynical attempt to draw out and take apart the victims complaints, ensuring that they were left demoralised and dissuaded from continuing the long painful pursuit of a voice and justice.

Doubtless, Jamieson’s so called investigations would likely not have been open to scrutiny by the victims of the abuse, its certainly my own personal experience that this was the way he had his soldiers operated when he was the Commissioner of Police.

There is a personal irony, in 2006 during a settlement conference with the religious order responsible for my childhood abuse, I touched upon the continued harassment at the hands of the New Zealand Police during my youth and in particular John Jamieson and his unique talent; that of an undertaker overseeing the burial of misconduct and corruption by his own Police Officers.

In 1989, during Jamieson’s tenure as Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ron Thornton a secretary for the then Minister of Police during a (taped) telephone call was given to advise my brothers and I not to give the tape recorded evidence we had obtained of Police corruption and abuse to Police command. Mr. Thornton was firmly of the belief that those responsible for an investigation would simply use the opportunity to pull the evidence apart; their only objective, to render it useless – thankfully their are still caring and honest people like Ron Thornton in the world.

As for Father Miles O’Malley, he died suddenly on Wednesday 25th August 2010, 5 weeks after this blog was first published – the blog and this post in particular had been brought to his attention.

Finem Lauda


Related posts:

Geoffrey Palmer, John Jamieson and the exculpation of a very bent cop

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