Audit probes council's actions

Last updated 05:00 05/11/2012

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An independent legal audit of Environment Southland's compliance processes will begin this week.

Council chief executive Rob Phillips said in a statement issued yesterday it was essential there was public confidence that all the council's regulatory practices were sound, and that the processes for taking compliance action were robust.

The move follows stories in the The Southland Times involving two separate incidents - one surrounding allegations that Environment Southland compliance officer Chris McMillan altered a statement from police after a stock truck sting, and the other where senior Invercargill lawyer Rex Chapman told The Times Mr McMillan effectively acknowledged under cross examination in court the council's original written case against a farm owner and manager it was prosecuting contained statements that were not true.

Mr Phillips said prosecutions were an essential part of the council's compliance activity.

"Everyone needs to be confident that compliance action is based on sound processes that have been carried out with integrity."

Environmental lawyer Karenza de Silva would undertake a comprehensive audit of the council's compliance division.

Based in Auckland, Ms de Silva is formerly from Invercargill and has 27 years experience. She has practised in environmental law since 1988, specialising in enforcement. She is one of the authors of the Resource Management Enforcement Manual and acts for several local authorities in the North Island.

Mr Phillips said the legal audit would begin this week and was likely to take about a fortnight.

"It will be thorough and the results will be released," he said.

A public statement would be made about the outcome of the audit.

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- The Southland Times

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