22 Sep 2019

Christchurch mayor breaks silence over complaints about councillor

6:51 pm on 22 September 2019

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has broken her silence over claims of inappropriate behaviour by a councillor involving three young people.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel speaks to reporters at the Christchurch City Council offices.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel speaks to reporters at the Christchurch City Council offices. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

A written complaint has been filed about 'grossly inappropriate' messages sent by the councillor over a three-year period to three people then aged between 13 and 21 years old.

RNZ had been seeking comment from the mayor since Friday night.

In a statement issued on Sunday afternoon, Ms Dalziel said she was approached by a youth group about the messages in May, and on 10 June she met with someone from the group who described the pattern of behaviour.

She said she agreed to speak to the councillor about appropriate behaviour and ensured he did not attend events where he would be in contact with young people.

The mayor met with the group on 24 June to discuss "next steps".

"I explained that the Christchurch City Council Code of Conduct was an extremely poor process for addressing such matters. There was ultimately no means of resolution other than a vote of the council, and even then it could only be a recommendation," she said.

Ms Dalziel raised the option of restorative justice at this point.

She was not able to tell the group what a Code of Conduct process would mean in terms of naming the young people.

At this point the mayor handed the matter over to the acting chief executive, Mary Richardson.

She said she was not made aware of all of the issues that were the subject of the complaint until after Ms Richardson met with the young people last Tuesday, where Ms Richardson was given detailed information.

After this she said her and the chief executive agreed to progress to the next stage of the Code of Conduct "immediately".

An independent investigator has been appointed to decide whether a full investigation is warranted and will start work tomorrow.

Ms Dalziel said she was not able to comment further while this process was underway.