The Big Anti-Climax: Initial Findings by The Commerce Commission Revealed

In mid February Shane Jones made allegations against Countdown of bullying, extortion and blackmail.
He inferred that “many” suppliers had complained about how they were treated but were afraid to come forward lest they be blacklisted, harassed or otherwise given an even rougher deal than they apparently already had.

Fast forward a month.

Yesterday the Commerce Commission’s chief executive Brent Alderton and his team were summoned to a select committee meeting in parliament where they were interrogated by Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove, who demanded answers.
Had they found evidence of bullying? How many suppliers have complained and what did these complaints entail? Who were the complainants? And what DID they do with that email demanding a $2 million retrospective payment?

Cosgrove must have liked the way Jones’ cloak of Parliamentary Privilege shone and sparkled in the artificial lighting of the house – because he seems to have gone ahead and designed himself a similar garment.

The way Cosgrove went about handling this meeting echoes in many ways how Jones approached the initial allegations – like a bull in a china shop, Jones and Cosgrove both charged about willy-nilly, crashing into things and making one hell of a mess.

Cosgrove does not seem to realise his demands for information at this stage were out of line as the investigation is still ongoing – but perhaps he does realise this. It would explain why he, again echoing Jones, refused to speak outside of the privilege of the select committee meeting or make public statements to the media.

First he wanted to know if the CC had confirmed the existence of the aforementioned email – and accused them of “making it go away” because Countdown had said it was a mistake.
So far, the existence of this email has NOT been confirmed and the allegation is still under investigation. It is also important to note that reports of the incident itself are sketchy – while Clayton accuses the CC of not following due process, this article infers that if a complaint WAS made it was withdrawn by the supplier.
Cosgrove also wanted to know how many suppliers had made official complaints, who they were, what the complaints were about and if they had been threatened with reprisals by Countdown if they were to come forward.  Again, this is really none of his business and it would not be appropriate to release the information to third parties while the investigation continues – but Mr Alderton was able to confirm that they had to date received less than 30 and not all of them were about Countdown.

There have been several articles published on this story which you can read about.
Two are in The Herald here and here (the second link of which mentions the “narrow majority” {51%} who believe Jones’ allegations are true while 20.4% believe Countdown – which leads us to assume that roughly 26% of respondents weren’t sure or wanted to adopt a ‘wait and see’ position).
Further reports can be found on the TV3 page talking about implementing a code and in this Newstalk ZB article regarding a lack of evidence about bullying.

The investigation is likely to take several more months but at this point the evidence is not looking promising for Jones in his war against That Australian Owned Company.
Not that it is likely to stop him. He, along with his trusty sidekick Cosgrove, is probably digging for more dirt as you read this.

Watch out Countdown – looks like Shane Jones now has a second in his fighting corner.

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