18 Oct 2013

Local Govt heads meet with Auckland Council

6:19 pm on 18 October 2013

The heads of Local Government New Zealand have made a fleeting visit to Auckland to offer advice to the council on the sex scandal surrounding mayor Len Brown.

Mr Brown has gone to ground since news of his two-year extra-marital affair broke on Tuesday and he confirmed it.

Len Brown.

Len Brown. Photo: RNZ

The few public engagements he had this week have been scrapped and he is still refusing to answer mounting questions about the affair and his fitness for Auckland's top political role.

Local Government New Zealand chief executive Malcolm Alexander and president Lawrence Yule met with council staff on Thursday night to offer advice.

That advice is being kept secret. What is known, is that the Auckland Council asked the umbrella group for local bodies for its support.

Prime Minister John Key met with Mr Brown on Friday for his monthly meeting with the mayor. Mr Key says the affair wasn't brought up and it is a matter for Mr Brown, his voters and family.

Mr Key says he doesn't have any detail about whether Mr Brown stayed in SkyCity hotel rooms for free.

Mr Brown has also admitted he was a job referee for the woman he had the affair with, Bevan Chuang. It was for the role of sponsorship coordinator at Auckland's art gallery.

Spending review

The mayor's office will next week be the subject of a spending review to ensure that Len Brown used no ratepayers' money in conducting the relationship with Bevan Chuang. It will be led by council chief executive Doug McKay.

Mr McKay says he has received assurances from Mr Brown and his chief of staff that no mayoral office funds were used in relation to the affair - but says he will independently review it anyway.

He reiterated that the mayor doesn't have a credit card, and all invoices and payments are checked and approved by other staff. It is not known when the review will be completed.

Meanwhile, a media lawyer says whether Mr Brown could claim his privacy has been breached comes down to a question of detail.

Lawyer Steven Price says he suspects reporting of the affair would be ruled in court to be of public interest.

However, he told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Friday the initial story had a lot of sordid sexual detail that wouldn't meet the public interest test.