Despite Strath Taieri Community Board chair's racial slur, mayor retains confidence

6:10 pm on 30 August 2023
Dunedin Mayor Elect Jules Radich

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich (pictured) said he was confident Barry Williams could continue to do his job as Strath Taieri Community Board chairperson. Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

Dunedin's mayor has revealed a racial slur by community board chair against against a member of the public happened in a pub and a complaint was lodged after news of his behaviour spread through the small Otago community.

On Tuesday, Jules Radich sent a letter of censure, inviting Strath Taieri Community Board chair Barry Williams to consider resigning.

But on Wednesday, Radich said he was confident Barry Williams could continue to do the job, and further action would not be taken if he chose to stay.

An internal investigation was launched after a Code of Conduct complaint was made against Williams.

Investigator Steph Dyhrberg concluded that a breach had happened, and the Dunedin City Council backed her findings, voting for the mayor to send a letter of censure on Tuesday.

Mayor Jules Radich said he was disappointed by Williams' behaviour.

"It happened in a pub and he didn't even remember that it had happened so it was just a relatively minor thing.

"Certainly the people who overheard the incident didn't report it or bring it to anyone's attention."

Instead, he said it was word of mouth in a small community that lead to the complaint.

"Here he was out in a public setting and has lowered his standards so it's only appropriate that we do censure him and it's just unfortunate it has happened.

"However, I think it's not beyond the ability of anyone to come back from such a thing.

"He's been an elected member of that community board for many, many years and he's by far the highest polling candidate, and represents his community well in typical regard."

In his letter, Radich noted Barry Williams had apologised, saying it was the minimum he could do.

"I think people are elected to office on the basis that they are exemplary, and they are constantly under scrutiny by the public."