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Code of Conduct complaint process will not continue

Christchurch City Council Chief Executive Dawn Baxendale will not be continuing with the Code of Conduct complaints process involving former Councillor Deon Swiggs.

A preliminary assessment of the complaints was undertaken by an independent investigator, retired High Court Associate Judge John Matthews. His report was completed and released to the parties and the media in early October 2019.

Mr Matthews’ assessment found that of the five complaints before him, two were material and two were said to have taken place before Mr Swiggs was elected to the Council. The fifth was referred to another agency.

The two complaints found to be material were considered to be sufficiently serious to warrant a full investigation under the Code of Conduct. This would have required Mr Matthews to prepare a further report for the Council.

Mrs Baxendale has determined that a full investigation will not proceed. There are a number of reasons for her decision:
• Mr Swiggs is no longer a Councillor, having lost his bid for re-election;
• The Code of Conduct should be enforced against sitting Councillors, not those who have left office;
• There is no meaningful provision of the Code that would enable the Council to take action against Mr Swiggs, should the complaints against him be proven.

Mrs Baxendale said that the finding of materiality was not a finding that the complaints were proven.

She said the matter has raised a number of concerns about the ability of the Council to deal with complaints of this nature.

“We are already making improvements to our processes, including improvements to the Code of Conduct complaints process and awareness training for elected members and staff.”

Mrs Baxendale said she would be making no further comment on the matter.

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