Kapiti Council says insurer could cover Mayor’s court costs
By the Editor, Alan Tristram
The Kapiti Coast District Council has replied to KIN on the vexed question of ‘Who pays for the costs?’ associated with Mayor K Gurunathan’s defamation case.
The Mayor is alleged to have defamed Raechel and Vince Osborne in the dispute over their macrocarpa hedge adjoining Te Moana Road in Waikanae.
Gary Simpson, KCDC Acting Chief Executive, says:
“Should the Osbornes claim be successful, costs associated with this matter will be covered by the Council’s insurer.
The Council has insurance cover that responds to defamation claims.”
KIN understands Mayor Gurunathan is being sued for more than $50,000, and costs — as well as a full apology — for allegations he made in print and on the radio.
It’s the first time in living memory that a Kapiti Mayor has faced Court action over such a community dispute.
The case has arisen over the long-standing dispute related to the historic hedge on the Osborne’s property.
Some residents in the neighborhood claimed the hedge was overgrown and presented safety issues.
The Osborne’s argued that their hedge was a family treasure, and they wanted to retain it; but they also carried out trimming work to lessen the alleged safety problems along the road (which does not have a footpath at this point). Later, the Kapiti Coast District Council conducted its own trimming operations.
Opportunity to publicly apologise
Again, we understand that Mr Gurunathan’s lawyer came up with a form of apology to try to settle the issue, but this was obviously not satisfactory to the other side.
The case is expected to end up in Court in Wellington early this year.