The 2019 Christchurch local body elections were marred by accusations brought against a sitting councillor in the Central ward, who was standing for re-election. It soon emerged that the complaints had been brought against them months earlier, but the Mayor had decided to support her protege by keeping quiet on the matter, and the matter proceeded behind the scenes until four months later when the complainants, the highly respected Canterbury Youth Workers Collective, filed a formal complaint against the councillor which soon became public knowledge.
Subsequently the acting CEO of the CCC appointed a retired High Court Associate Judge to undertake an investigation of the complaints, and his report has found “two of the complaints raised are material and require a full investigation…one of the complaints [has been] referred to another agency” (believed to be the Police). The said Councillor was rejected by the voters in his ward and consequently failed to be re-elected to Council. Following the elections the CCC’s new Chief Executive stated she would be dropping the Code of Conduct complaint as there was no provision for action to be taken against a former member. A community of support has formed around the ousted councillor loudly proclaiming he is innocent of the alleged questionable conduct, and claiming a political witch-hunt was organised against the councillor by his political opponents. This is further covered in more depth at This Is Christchurch.
At this blog, we are concerned that the serious matter of alleged sexual harrassment of the young persons represented by the respected Canterbury Youth Workers Collective has been largely submerged in the crossfire between the Councillor’s supporters, CCC and other political candidates in Central Ward. The complainants appear to have followed proper process, yet there are suggestions that defamation action may be commenced against them. All of this appears heavy handed and an attempt to shut down the complaints, an inappropriate response in the circumstances. We will be approaching our local MP to campaign for a fair and just process for the complainants who have been subject to considerable villification from the Councillor’s wealthy and politically powerful supporters.