04 August 2020
Councillor found to be in breach of Code of Conduct
In the public excluded section of last week’s full Council meeting, Councillors received the outcome of the Audit and Risk Committee’s investigation into complaints alleging breaches of the Rotorua Lakes Council Code of Conduct by Councillor Macpherson.
The investigation found Councillor Macpherson to be in breach of the Code of Conduct. The investigation report recommended he apologise to the complainants by 31 July 2020, and in the event that the apologies were not made by that time, that the Mayor immediately issue an apology to each of the complainants on behalf of the Council.
Council accepted the findings and agreed to the recommendations. Councillor Macpherson has not made the required apologies and Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick will instead do this on the Council’s behalf.
On 29 January 2020 a formal Notice of Complaint was lodged with the Rotorua Lakes Council Audit and Risk Committee. The Notice of Complaint identified five separate individuals who had each made a complaint to her about actions of Councillor Macpherson. The Audit and Risk Committee then commissioned an independent investigation by Lachlan Muldowney to examine the concerns.
The independent investigation concluded that Councillor Macpherson had breached the Code of Conduct in respect of his obligations:
- of confidentiality
- not to mislead
- to treat Council staff and elected members with respect
- not to engage in offensive behaviour.
About the outcome, Rotorua Mayor, Steve Chadwick says, “The outcome is clear, Cr Macpherson has breached the Code of Conduct all elected members agree to when they declare their oath and take their place on Council.
“I regret that Cr Macpherson hasn’t taken it upon himself to apologise to those affected by his actions as this was a fair and balanced recommendation.
“I wish this issue had been dealt with faster, but at the end of the day, the lack of willingness by Cr Macpherson to engage in the early stages forced this into a formal process and that has been further impacted by COVID-19.
“The process has been sound. The Audit and Risk Committee has also considered the issues Cr Macpherson alleged in his response to the investigation and moved on, agreeing there were no issues to deal with.
“Independent investigator Lachlan Muldowney has acted with integrity and professionalism during the process.
“Cr Macpherson’s attempt to discredit Mr Muldowney’s reputation remains embarrassing to council and reflects more on the elected member than a well-respected member of the bar.
“Cr Macpherson’s behavior is a real drag on council’s resources. I am frustrated by his continued need to mislead the public and undermine the partnerships of council as determined by this investigation.
“As Councillors, we should all be reminded that the Code of Conduct is a guiding document about how we should interact with council staff and members of the public, and that there are consequences that can be escalated when these obligations are breached.”
The report received by Council on this matter was made publicly available after 1 August 2020 and is available HERE.