Mayor's comments 'not made on legal advice'

Mayor Tim Shadbolt said comments he made about the potential illegality of the appointment of the city council's chief executive Richard King were not based on legal advice.

Mr Shadbolt was quoted in The Southland Times yesterday saying Mr King may have been in the job illegally since 1999.

Mr King, who has been chief executive for 25 years, must reapply for his job every five years.

In yesterday's article, Mr Shadbolt said he had asked council lawyers to investigate the current appointment process for the chief executive following controversy over how it was handled.

The mayor said he was horrified to learn that the chief executive officer's appraisal committee, which has been handling the current process, had not been given delegated authority by the full council to do anything.

Mr Shadbolt also said it appeared the council had broken the law in 1999, 2002 and 2008 when handling the chief executive's reappointment. "You could say Richard's been illegally employed for the last decade," Mr Shadbolt said this week. "It's been a disaster."

However, yesterday he said he was certainly wrong that the 2002 process was illegal.

In 2002, a subcommittee headed by Cr David Carter had selected Mr King with the help of an independent consultant. The Act was not in force at the time.

In fact, while it passed through Parliament in 2002, it was only formally made law in 2003.

Mr Shadbolt said he did not know if the 2008 process complied with the laws and he intended to check up on it.

Southland Times articles from 2008 said the reappointment was handled by the full council, which would have been legal.

"I didn't say he was appointed illegally," Mr Shadbolt said. "I said it looked like he may have been appointed illegally."

He did not consult with council lawyer Warwick Cambridge before making the comments. They were based on his reading of previous articles in The Southland Times.

The Southland Times