Christchurch councillors reveal when they knew of Swiggs' 'inappropriate' behaviour

7:11 pm on 26 September 2019

The Christchurch City Council closed its final meeting of the term on today, and Mayor Lianne Dalziel is still refusing to comment further on the allegations of inappropriate behaviour by one of her councillors.

Deon Swiggs

Christchurch city councillor Deon Swiggs is the subject of a code of conduct complaint. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Three complainants, aged between 13 and 21 at the time, said that Deon Swiggs engaged in "grossly inappropriate" late-night messaging on social media on numerous occasions and insisted on hugs instead of handshakes.

Ms Dalziel previously said she was first approached about the allegations in May.

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

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel is still refusing to comment further about the allegations against Mr Swiggs. Photo: RNZ / SIMON ROGERS

A spokesperson for Ms Dalziel told RNZ that the mayor would not comment about the allegations until a preliminary assessment of the code of conduct complaint against Mr Swiggs was completed.

Council acting chief executive Mary Richardson appointed retired associate justice of the High Court John Matthews to undertake the assessment on Monday.

The assessment is expected to be completed before the local body elections on 12 October.

Meanwhile, the allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Mr Swiggs appears to have caught most of his colleagues by surprise.

Excluding Mr Swiggs, the majority of the 15 Christchurch councillors say they first heard about the allegations through the media.

Who knew what and when?

Andrew Turner was one of those to cut the ribbon and officially open the square.

Andrew Turner Photo: RNZ / Nicola Grigg

Deputy Mayor and Banks Peninsula Councillor Andrew Turner:

Mr Turner told RNZ that he first became aware of the allegations on Thursday last week, by Ms Richardson.

"There is one part of the complaint that references a conversation with another councillor, that other councillor is apparently me, even though I'm not as I understand it named in the report," Mr Turner said.

"That was the reason that I was given an earlier heads up that this was happening than other councillors."

Heathcote Councillor Sara Templeton:

Ms Templeton said she was told on Thursday last week by a "young person" that a complaint had been made against Mr Swiggs.

She said she did not know any of the complainants and would not comment further.

Harewood Councillor Aaron Keown:

Mr Keown said he first learned of the allegations through media reports on Friday night. He believed Ms Dalziel had been put in a "difficult position" following the allegations.

"It's a little unfair on the mayor to be shouldering any of this during an election period. So it's rough timing for her to be facing this and so pretty unfair for her to shoulder the blame."

Innes Councillor Pauline Cotter:

Ms Cotter said she only found out about the allegations through the media and would not comment further.

Coastal Councillor David East:

Mr East said he too first learned about the allegations through media reports. When asked how he felt Ms Dalziel handled the situation, he said it "could be better".

He would not comment further.

Burwood Councillor Glenn Livingstone:

Mr Livingstone said he only learned about the allegations through the media. He refused to comment further.

Fendalton Councillor James Gough:

Mr Gough said he learned about the allegations on Thursday last week when a journalist approached him for comment about it.

He would not comment further when approached by RNZ, but prior to Mr Swiggs being named as the councillor under investigation, Mr Gough posted on social media calling on Mr Swiggs to come forward.

Papanui Councillor Mike Davidson:

Mr Davidson "heard something was happening" on Friday afternoon but had "no idea" what it was.

"It was really the media on Saturday morning that I worked out what it was," he said.

Mr Davidson did not believe Ms Dalziel has handled the situation poorly.

"This is quite a delicate situation with a lot of people actually involved and you've got to be careful how that's handled," he said.

He also believed the issue should have remained confidential to make sure the people weren't "affected worse" if it went public.

Hornby Councillor Jimmy Chen:

Mr Chen said he found out about the allegations over the weekend when the acting chief executive emailed councillors about it.

Spreydon Councillor Phil Clearwater:

Mr Clearwater said he first learned about the allegations through media reports on Saturday.

Halswell Councillor Anne Galloway:

Ms Galloway said she also found about the allegations through media reports.

Riccarton Councillor Vicki Buck:

Ms Buck said she was unaware of the allegations until the media reports.

Waimairi Councillor Raf Manji:

Mr Manji said he found out about the allegations through media reports.

Cashmere Councillor Tim Scandrett:

Mr Scandrett said he learned of the allegations of Saturday morning through the media reports.

Linwood Councillor Yani Johanson:

Mr Johanson said he found out about the allegations through media reports on Friday, but was yet to see the complaint.

Aside from the councillors, Mr Swiggs' election rivals for his central ward seat have also spoken about the allegations.

People's Choice - Labour candidate Jake McLellan said he found out about the allegations through the media on Friday.

He said he was "shocked as anyone to see the story".

"I'm not keen to make too much comment, that it would be easy to seize an opportunity here," Mr McLellan said.

Independent citizens candidate Clive Antony said in a statement published on Sunday, that he was "distressed" by the allegations that had come out.

"It isn't helpful for me to comment on this out of respect to the complainants," he said.