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"Emergency! Emergency!"

Were Auckland City Council acting under emergency powers in the summer of 97/98, or were they building the sludge dump on Chisholm's boundary under false pretences? That was a question considered in the Sludgegate trial today.

We have already heard that the Environment Court considered that council's purported emergency powers should not be used on Adrian Chisholm's boundary. We have heard that council officers Mike McQuillan and Greg Paterson (who apparently made the decision to build the sludge dump) had no delegated powers to make such a decision. And we heard today from numerous witnesses, who confirmed that "the crisis" was "being exaggerated." In short, as one said: "there was no emergency."

Sludge operator Hugh Richards told the court that Paterson, McQuillan, and Enforcement Officer Sean Deery had tried a number of times to "manufacture" an emergency. He said, for example, that Sean Deery had organised the dumping of one truck load of sewage on Richards' dump site without his permission. He went on to give evidence that these three sent a tanker to the Island in mid January '98 to "create the appearance of an emergency situation," and instructed him to empty the island's toilets to fill it up. It returned to the city empty, said Richards - despite council's press releases to the contrary - because there was nothing to fill it up with. McQuillan, who issued the press release, left a nasty message on Richards' phone because of this 'failure'. At the time, this incident was dubbed by the 'New Zealand Herald': Sludgegate.

Council's legal team tried at length to shake Hugh Richards under cross examination, but he held firm to the facts related.

Further witnesses will be heard tomorrow, including a 'Mr Tea Towel'.

ENDS

For further information please contact: Peter Cresswell (025) 861 927 e-mail: organon@ihug.co.nz www.sludgegate.com


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