Apology following legal threat

JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 10:04 05/11/2012
Jackie
Red-faced: Anti water meter campaigner Jackie Elliott has been forced to apologise to councillor Penny Gaylor for wrongly suggesting she suppored privatisation of water.

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A Kapiti Coast District councillor in a defamation stoush with a vocal council opponent will now take a seat beside her as an elected member.

Councillor Penny Gaylor said she discovered an audio clip in mid-September on a website run by Kapiti Concerned Citizens alongside a picture of herself surrounded by water meters.

Underneath the picture was a section saying Ms Gaylor thought privatisation was a great idea.

Ms Gaylor said she launched the audio and was shocked to hear herself say "privatisation, I absolutely support like everybody else", looped three times.

The snippet was part of a longer sentence, spoken at a June 7 meeting, where she supported creating the highest threshold before privatisation could ever occur.

At the meeting she went on to say she had never heard any councillors support privatisation and the issue was simply a "red herring".

After defamation threats from council lawyers the woman who published the page has issued a public apology.

An apology in the public notice section of the Kapiti Observer came from Jackie Elliott the day after she was elected to serve on the Otaki Community Board alongside Ms Gaylor.

Ms Gaylor said she had never come across anything like the audio clip before.

"The reason it was so abhorrent is that I'm a staunch opponent of privatisation of public assets, whether they are owned by the ratepayer or the taxpayer."

The threat of legal action has seen Ms Elliott apologise fully for the publication and remove the page including picture and audio from the website.

Ms Elliott has been a prominent opponent of council plans to introduce water meters - an issue she credits with helping her win last week's board by-election.

She would not answer Kapiti Observer questions on how she gained the audio clip and why she published it.

In a written statement she said it was one of Kapiti Concerned Citizens' objectives to provide "more transparency of council activities".

"I am unable to refer directly to the audio clip in question as it has already been the subject of threats of legal action by KCDC and have complied with their requests, to remove that threat."

Ms Elliott said she has had a warm welcome to her new position on the board extended by members and mayor Jenny Rowan.

Meanwhile Ms Gaylor said she had made several clear public statements that she opposed privatisation before the audio was published.

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"I acknowledge it was taken down straight away when asked. I simply wanted a sincere apology at that point," she said. "At least I got an apology."

She said the question of whether she could work with Ms Elliott on the board was a tough one. "Well, we'll see."

WHAT PLAYED:

"Privatisation: I absolutely support like everybody else."

WHAT PENNY GAYLOR SAID:

"Privatisation: I absolutely support like everybody else gathered around this table that we make the highest possible threshhold [before it can happen], and if that's a binding referendum I will support that. I have not heard one person around this table or any previous council table that I was listening to, support privatisation. It absolutely must be a red herring. I don't know why people think that it's a . . . (pauses) . . . I haven't heard anybody coming out singing its praises."

- Kapiti Observer

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