Deputy mayor faces hearing after complaint over emails

19:15, Dec 03 2012

Hamilton Deputy Mayor Gordon Chesterman faces a formal hearing over his conduct during a heated email exchange with an anti-rodeo campaigner.

Not all of the emails, between Mr Chesterman and city resident Alvina Barrett, have been made public, but in those obtained by the Waikato Times Ms Barrett complained of "innuendo relating to pigs and indigenous people", and about Mr Chesterman's "personal and offensive" emailed responses.

The Times understands a compliance panel comprising barrister and mediator Deborah Clapshaw, mediation specialist Carol Powell and statutory management chairman John Gower will consider Ms Barrett's complaint.

Mr Chesterman confirmed he was the subject of the conduct complaint.

"It relates to an email exchange with an animal rights activist over the Hamilton International Rodeo.

"The matter is going to a hearing, and I'd rather the hearing listen to the evidence rather than the Waikato Times conduct a trial by jury. Whether she's got any credibility, that's for you to decide."


Mr Chesterman refused to release the emails, but said that he wanted the complaint, to which he has prepared a "significant response", dealt with as quickly as possible. Three dates before Christmas are being considered.

The complaint is not the first Ms Barrett has levelled against prominent politicians or candidates. In 2004 she famously derailed front-running city mayoral candidate Martin Elliott's election campaign after going public over a vulgar comment he made to her about rival candidate Michael Redman.

Mr Elliott's "little one" remark helped Mr Redman storm into the mayoralty.

Hamilton City Council chief executive Barry Harris privately alerted the council late on Friday to the alleged breach of the council's code of conduct.

The code of conduct provides for a range of disciplinary action when breaches are upheld by the compliance panel, ranging from formal apologies or censure, to sacking from official roles such as chairs and the deputy mayoralty. The complaint was received on November 19, and mediation is expected to cost $5000, confirmed democratic support services manager Anthony Dick.

Neither council management nor its political wing have issued any public statements about the alleged breach, or the response to the complaint.

Mr Harris told the council he would not release details of the alleged conduct breach to allow a fair hearing of the evidence by the compliance panel.

While the panel would usually include Mayor Julie Hardaker, the nature of the allegations made her inclusion inappropriate, Mr Harris told the council.

The panel "will be provided with the relevant information and report back to council with any recommended course of action," he told the council.

Ms Barrett was still looking into the matter yesterday and did not yet want to comment.

Waikato Times