Road rage banker 'didn't damage company name'

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 12:16 19/12/2012
guy hallwright
GRAHAME COX/ Fairfax NZ
FIGHTING DISMISSAL: Guy Hallwright.

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A senior Forsyth Barr analyst who was fired after being convicted of a road rage incident has argued he was personally brought into disrepute but his employer was not.

Guy Hallwright is fighting to be reinstated to his job after he was summarily dismissed following his conviction for causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard.

Hallwright, who was earning $275,000 a year, is also seeking reimbursement of lost wages.

In August, Hallwright was sentenced to 250 hours community work, disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to pay victim Sung Jin Kim $20,000 reparation after a jury found he unintentionally ran Kim down with his car in September 2010.

The sentence provoked outrage at its perceived leniency and Hallwright was reported to have left his job soon after.

At an Employment Relations Authority hearing in Auckland yesterday it was revealed that Hallwright did not leave of his own accord but was handed an envelope at his desk by the company's chief operating officer which informed him he had been dismissed.

Today, Hallwright's lawyer Kathryn Beck said her client had worked for Forsyth Barr, without issue, from when the incident took place through to his conviction two years later.

He told his employers about the case and suggested ways he could mitigate the effect on the company, by staying out of the public eye and perhaps removing his name from analysis documents.

Forsyth Barr based the dismissal on Hallwright bringing the company's name into disrepute and him not being able to continue performing his job.

Executive director Shane Edmond told the ERA hearing there were no problems with Hallwright's work.

"The work, no. The name on the document, yes."

Beck said her client had been brought into disrepute but there was no evidence Forsyth Barr had been brought into disrepute.

She said though there was negative media comment about the incident, the business media continued to use Hallwright for comment with his business credibility unquestioned.

Yesterday, Forsyth Barr managing director Neil Paviour-Smith described the circumstances that led to Hallwright's dismissal.

Paviour-Smith said the letter should not have come as a surprise to Hallwright given he had been through a disciplinary process after his conviction, and had been privy to the drafts of such letters via email.

He said Hallwright's conviction had hurt Forsyth Barr's reputation, based on evidence from staff and clients, and believed both his and the company's credibility with the media and the public had been undermined.

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''Everything that we did points to a carefully considered process. I think we were very fair and reasonable to Guy right through the whole two year period... I didn't form any predisposed views as to where this would all end up.''

Hallwright argued he should receive payment for his lost bonuses.

He said he received bonuses of between $152,000 and $300,000 per year, paid six-monthly. His average bonus was $210,000.

Kim, the victim in the incident, suffered two broken legs and has had multiple operations since the 2010 incident.

The Solicitor-General decided not to appeal Hallwright's sentence but said it was "undoubtedly lenient".

- Auckland Now

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