Police have apologised for previously claiming there were no formal complaints laid against alleged teen rape gang the Roast Busters – when it turns out there has been at least one.
It has been revealed four girls laid complaints with police over the last two-and-a-half years, and Waitemata police district commander Superintendent Bill Searle now admits at least one of those should have been considered a formal complaint.
Last night 3 News aired an interview with a 15-year-old girl who went to the police in December 2011, when she was 13, alleging she was raped by two of the Roast Busters. She gave a video statement and re-enacted the incident using dolls – and Mr Searle says as far as he's concerned, that constitutes a formal complaint.
This contradicts the police's line all this week, which has been that they couldn't charge any of the Roast Busters because none of the alleged victims had laid a formal complaint.
"I was briefed that there was no formal complaint, and as I said before, there is a little bit of disagreement about what a formal complaint is," Mr Searle said on Firstline this morning.
"As far as I'm concerned what the lady said was a formal complaint. I'd just like to apologise to her for any stress that this would have caused, because undoubtedly this could have caused her extra stress, and I would just like to apologise to her for that."
Mr Searle says he plans "a bit of an investigation" to find out why he was told there had been no complaints laid against the group.
The teenager 3 News spoke to yesterday said during her interview with police, she was asked what clothes she was wearing at the time of the alleged rape.
"They said that I didn't have enough evidence to show, because I went out in clothes that was pretty much asking for it. […] I was asked a lot of questions about what I was wearing, and I went out in a skirt."
Mr Searle says this is not "general practise" and is another aspect of the case he will be looking into. The girl will lay a new complaint today, and Mr Searle says she will be looked after by a different investigator.
"I welcome her to come forward – we look forward to talking to her. We're very keen to see what she's got to say, and what we'll do is we'll compare that with the other developing evidence in the case, and see whether we can progress the case now."
Despite the flaws in the original investigation, Mr Searle stands by his team.
"I think what's happened here is the police officers have done their very best, and we'll just have a look to see if their very best was good enough, and whether it could have been done better."
Police have been trying to contact the complainants over the last few weeks – before 3 News broke the story on Sunday night. The girl 3 News spoke to was on their list, but Mr Searle says they couldn't get in touch with her.
There are a number of other young women the police are speaking to, not all of whom they would consider to be complainants.
Labour calls for IPCA investigation
Labour police spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says it would be in "everyone's best interests" if the Independent Police Conduct Authority took up the case.
"By and large the police do a fantastic job on our behalf, but in this particular case there are enough questions now that have been raised that the public have an expectation to be answered," she says.
"On Monday of course we had the Minister of Police stand up and say that she wanted victims to come forward, to make statements, but now it appears that absolutely did occur; I guess the question that's being asked is, why was that not sufficient at that time to take the case further? And having it independently reviewed would help us answer those questions."
Police Minister Anne Tolley will meet with Police Commissioner Peter Marshall at the Beehive today, Fairfax reports.