Stadium report conditions 'justified' - Ombudsman

5:21 pm on 19 November 2018

Auckland's mayor Phil Goff was justified in only conditionally releasing a $900,000 report on a new Auckland stadium to his councillors, the Chief Ombudsman has found.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. Photo: Auckland Council

Mr Goff commissioned the report into the potential for a downtown stadium last year without councillors' knowledge and then only gave them physical, rather than electronic, access to it.

His actions caused a rift in the council, with nine councillors writing an open letter expressing their "strong dissatisfaction", and two complaining to the ombudsman.

But chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has found Mr Goff's actions were reasonable.

"I have found the Council's decision to release the information to councillors with conditions to be justified. This approach allowed councillors to be kept informed, while also recognising the particular commercial sensitivities of the information," he said.

The councillors were offered a physical copy of the report that they could read but needed to return.

Other organisations imposed similar controls on sensitive information, he said.

At the time of the report's release, Mr Goff said there was at least one elected councillor consistently leaking information to the media and he needed to be careful with sensitive information.

Earlier this year, Auckland Council withheld the same report from RNZ for five months, only releasing it, in redacted form, after a separate investigation by the Ombudsman.

Mr Goff welcomed the Ombudsman's decision today.

"The Ombudsman has said that conditions imposed on the communication and publication of the report were justified.

"The Ombudsman's report now brings this matter to a close and all of us can continue to focus on those things that matter most to the people of Auckland."

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