REGINA - The Saskatchewan government has paid $275,000 to a senior civil servant who was fired over allegations of sexual harassment and convicted of assault.

The payment to Murdoch Carriere, a former director of fire management and forest protection for Saskatchewan Environment, settles a lawsuit filed against the government claiming damages for defamation and lost wages.

Environment Minister John Nilson says the payment is related to Carriere's 30 years of service in government.

"This particular resolution of this issue relates to the long service that Mr. Carriere had with the government of Saskatchewan," Nilson said Tuesday.

"After reviewing all of the information, the lawyers advised that we should settle this and that's what we've done."

Carriere was fired in 2003 after female employees at the provincial forestry centre alleged they were inappropriately kissed and hugged, and given unwanted shoulder massages.

A Saskatoon mediator investigated the complaints and, in his report, sided with the women.

The report was fodder for the Opposition in the legislature because Carriere was originally suspended and demoted. He wasn't fired until after the report became public.

The deputy minister who made the initial decision on discipline resigned.

Carriere called the mediator's report inaccurate and filed a defamation lawsuit against the government and several media outlets that carried stories about the case.

In a criminal trial last year, Carriere was convicted of two counts of assault against women who worked for him and given a six-month suspended sentence. He was acquitted on two counts of sexual assault.

The case led the government to revamp its harassment policy with regard to how managers should handle complaints and when elected officials should be informed about what is happening.

The settlement should not undercut the strong policies the government has in place, Nilson said.

"Practically, it was a way to have this whole thing be over for the employees who would be involved, for the government officials and for Mr. Carriere," he said.

Neither Carriere nor his lawyer returned phone calls.