29 May 2018

Council CEO apologies over letter to disgraced Olympian

3:08 pm on 29 May 2018

By Cal Roberts for the Wairarapa Times-Age cal.roberts@age.co.nz

Masterton District Council chief executive Pim Borren has apologised to councillors and staff for using council letterhead to send a reference letter for a sexual offender.

Masterton District Council chief executive Pim Borren.

Masterton District Council chief executive Pim Borren has apologised to councillors over the reference. Photo: Wairarapa Times-Age

Mr Borren wrote the letter for disgraced Olympic hockey champion Arthur Parkin, who was jailed on Friday for one year and eight months after a jury found him guilty of two of five indecent assault charges laid against him.

Parkin is the partner of Mr Borren's sister.

Mayor Lyn Patterson said she had no prior knowledge that the reference had been provided, and told the Times-Age it was inappropriate.

"It is not appropriate to provide a personal character reference for any case before the courts on council letterhead," Ms Patterson said.

"The chief executive has apologised to elected members and staff."

That apology was issued by an email over the weekend.

Masterton councillor Brent Goodwin said he was perfectly happy with Mr Borren's apology.

"That's the end of it as far as I'm concerned," Mr Goodwin said.

He was moved to say as much in an email to councillors after the apology.

"I got the feeling that some of them wanted to burn him at the stake and so I just said what my feeling was," Mr Goodwin said.

"He made an error of judgement, apologised, I don't see it as affecting his job - next."

Mr Borren's letter was written under the council's office of the chief executive letterhead and said Parkin had "made a mistake many years ago and paid dearly for it".

Mr Borren told the Times-Age on Friday it was his normal practice to use his business letterhead when providing references - which was a common occurrence.

"There is absolutely no way that I condone what he has been convicted off. I am absolutely abhorrent of it, as anyone would be," Mr Borren said.

"I was asked by his lawyer to write a character reference and I did that for a family member who I have known for 20 years and obviously care about."

Mr Borren could not be contacted on Sunday.

Society of Local Government Managers chief executive Karen Thomas said guidelines regarding when it was appropriate to use office letterheads were a matter for individual councils to establish.

"It would be between the elected members and the chief executive," Ms Thomas said.

*This story originally appeared in the Wairarapa Times-Age.