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Sludgegate: Surprising things happen on Waiheke

Sludgegate Update 5pm, Friday, 8 December 2000

"Surprising things happen on Waiheke and the air is rarely thin." Thus spoke Bruce Bissett in the Sludgegate trial today, and the courtroom air itself later became thick with argument - legal and otherwise.

Bissett is one of five Waiheke Community Board members called in this trial, all of whom have now been heard from. Sandra Lee is herself a former Waiheke alumnus, and her own style is rich with those Waiheke origins - Gordon Hodson was her mentor.

It is a highly charged political atmosphere, one into which Adrian Chisholm stumbled unwittingly in 1995. The fall-out is still evident.

Also caught up in the fall-out today was Simpson Grierson partner David Kirkpatrick, who became caught between the legal arguments of opposing counsel over what he was allowed to say about a council meeting of 16 March, 1998.

Chisholm's barrister Chris La Hatte asked Kirkpatrick if he recalled being at a meeting at which Mike McQuillan said he "wanted to dump sludge, even only one truck load on the golf course." When Kirkpatrick answered that he "couldn't recall" La Hatte suggested he look at his file notes, which were not in the courtroom. La Hatte stressed that this issue was of the utmost importance and Kirkpatrick was asked to return later in the afternoon when the note could be produced. The file note was there when he returned, but in the hands of council's legal team who then claimed privilege over it! La Hatte responded that privilege had already been waived since questions had already been asked on the matter. After some debate, the court ruled that legal arguments on the matter will have to be heard next week, after which Kirkpatrick will return.

The air, as Mr Bissett says, is rarely thin.

Justice Chambers has confirmed that the case will now continue on for at least two days next week, beginning Monday. Chris La Hatte has also confirmed that actions against Community Board member Faye Storer have been withdrawn. Utility Planning Engineer Mike McQuillan is expected to be cross-examined for most of Monday.

ENDS

For further information please contact: Peter Cresswell (025) 602 4203 e-mail: organon@ihug.co.nz www.freeradical.co.nz www.sludgegate.com


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