'He's innocent till ... whatever': Mayor backs rights of accused councillor
He is a councillor forbidden from his council headquarters. His mayor is a witness in an indecent assault case against him.
Justice and democracy are being threaded through the eye of a needle on the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington, as tight bail conditions in the case kick in.
On Tuesday, Kapiti Mayor K Gurunathan defended David Scott's right to remain a councillor, despite Gurunathan himself being a witness in his upcoming trial.
Scott, 70, appeared before a Porirua District Court registrar on Friday, and pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent assault, asking for a judge-alone trial. He was remanded till July on bail.
He is alleged to have pressed himself against a female council staffer, in front of the mayor, on April 13.
The bail conditions include that Scott should not associate with the three witnesses, except within business hours for council work, and then they must not discuss the case.
On Tuesday, Gurunathan, one of those witnesses, said he could not comment on details of the case. "He's innocent till ... whatever."
There was nothing to stop Scott "relaying issues from the community to myself, during working hours", Gurunathan said.
The conditions were a balance between the demands of the case and the requirements of democratic process, of which Scott remained a part.
"Everybody needs their day in court ... that's why you have the judiciary."
Scott is not allowed within the Kapiti Coast District Council building in Paraparaumu, and must not associate with the complainant. The council's meeting chambers are in the council building.
Scott said he would not be attending council meetings at least until his next appearance in court.
It was a shame he would not be able to debate a decision on councillors' pay at the next meeting on Thursday, he said.
"I can't be there because the bail conditions stop me from being in the council meeting."
Sitting in remotely through the likes of Skype was out of the question, with council-supplied hardware not likely to cope with the demands, Scott said.
The bail conditions stopped him from participating in all council-related meetings, while "embarrassment" and the stigma of the charge halted his community work, he said.
"A lot of my community work, I've just put on hold, and that's unfortunate for the community."
He said coverage of the case had been "totally devastating on my family, especially all the female members".
"Granddaughters, daughter-in-laws, nieces, all the women ... this is what I worry about more than myself."