George Davis | Why I'm vexed with Carolyn Warren
Devastated. That's how I feel about the admission by the former managing director of National Energy Solutions Limited (NESol), Carolyn Warren, that she had five previous criminal convictions on top of the suspended sentence she was handed for a drug charge in 1993.
I say devastated because the information about her criminal past is in excess of what I knew to be the reality when I submitted last week's column to my editor. The word is appropriate, too, because for the first time in the 13 years I've known her, I am vexed with Carolyn Warren.
My uncle, the veteran attorney of 30-plus years, has given me much advice over the years - all of it sound. And one of the things he loves to say in making the point about trust is that much of the time when lawyers lose cases, it's because their client fails to disclose all the information relevant to their case.
As he tells it, on many occasions, lawyers are surprised by some key revelation or admission during the course of the trial that their client opted not to share in the planning and consultation stage of the defence.
I recalled that story as I reflected on what Nationwide supremo, Cliff Hughes, had said in defence of Carolyn when news first broke about a drug conviction 25 years ago that she had failed to disclose to the principals at NESol. Cliff spoke with sincerity, empathy, and no little emotional intelligence as he sought to underscore just how much Carolyn had moved on from that one brush with the law.
He, more than perhaps anyone else, must have died a little inside, when he saw her statement admitting to a string of convictions, none of which were disclosed to him at the point of employing her at Nationwide. Poor Cliff had never even had a whiff of Carolyn's crowded record and was the object of attack from that segment of the Twitterati that specialises in smear.
I believe Cliff when he says he had no idea about the extent of what can only be referred to as Carolyn's dark past. I have been calling up foundation Nationwide staff over the past few days, asking if anyone had even heard of the other matters on Carolyn's record. The uniform response has been to ask me why I would think they would have even heard about those things when not even Cliff Hughes was aware.
I am upset at Carolyn because she missed a glorious opportunity to come clean when she issued that first statement, responding to Phillip Paulwell's claims about her criminal past. I find it difficult to accept that the woman I know, who operates on sound principles, could have opted to forgo full disclosure, even as she gave a radio interview talking about her past and how she had changed her life and relegated a relationship with crime to that difficult period in her life 25 years ago.
The embarrassment I feel for talking about her positive qualities last week is but a pimple compared to the wound inflicted on others by her foolish belief that if she remained mum on all aspects of her criminal record, such transgressions would go away.
I am vexed with Carolyn Warren because if I had her record and was applying for a government job, she would have advised me to disclose all on my application and accept whatever outcome that materialised. And if I had withheld some of the information, she would have directed me to make full disclosure, especially where the opportunity presented itself to a largely sympathetic nation.
But such is love. I maintain that Carolyn should have disclosed at the outset and let her prospective employers make the decision they felt best under the circumstances.
Despite a lingering sense of betrayal, I still believe her to be a good woman. And I want to tell her publicly that my door will never be closed to her or her family.