Kapiti Mayor’s Defamation Case

Mayor KGurunathan

Mayor K Gurunathan answers some of the vital questions

By the Editor, Alan Tristram

View of the controversial hedge before trimming work.

A month ago we published important stories about Kapiti’s Mayor, K Gurunathan (Guru), and a defamation case being brought by the Osborne family of Waikanae Beach.

The case centres on the controversial hedge nurtured by the Osborne family in Te Moana Road over many years — and efforts by the KCDC and Mayor Gurunathan to get it cut back because of safety concerns.

Various remarks were made about Mr and Mrs Osborne and they were unhappy about some attributed to the Mayor, and so took legal action.

Much of this is sub judice, but not the question of who will pay for all the possible very large legal fees. And perhaps most important of all — why didn’t the Mayor get legal advice before launching into the media?

The KCDC insurers will cover the legal costs. But we understand there is a $10,000 excess. So who pays for this — the Mayor or the Public (through their rates).

So some important questions still needed answers. We’ve put these to the Mayor, and here are his answers:

The hedge in Te Moana Road, Waikanae before trimming

 

  1. Are KCDC lawyers acting for the Mayor; and, if so, who are they?

 

         Answer:The Council’s insurer has engaged Heany & Partners to provide legal advice.

 

  1. Who picks up the costs for the lawyers?

 

          Answer: The Council has insurance cover that responds to defamation claims.

  1. Does the KCDC usually indemnify the Mayor for remarks he makes to the media?

          Answer: The Council has insurance cover that responds to defamation claims.

  1. Did the Mayor check with the KCDC lawyers before making remarks about the dispute?

          Answer: No.

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Other questions:

  
But we ( the public) still need to know:
 
 
1. The KCDC has insurance, but is there is an ‘excess’ ( we understand this is $10,000) and who pays this, the Mayor or ratepayers?
 
2. What is the insurance excess amount? ($10,000)

 

3.Why you ( Mayor Gurunathan) did not apologise last year and perhaps avoid a case at all? 

Kapiti Mayor K Gurunathan — why didn’t he apologise fully and possibly defuse the situation?
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Background facts

 The row centres over claims the Mayor allegedly defamed Raechel and Vince Osborne in the dispute over their macrocarpa hedge adjoining Te Moana Road in Waikanae.

On January the 11th, the KCDC said: “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.

Like the now thankfully departed Mr Dougherty, it seems Mayor Guru has no qualms about spending unlimited amounts of Ratepayers money rather than admit he has made a bad mistake.

OPEN TRANSPARENT and ACCOUNTABLE
were these not the Mayor’s election promises—so what’s happened to them since the election?

Why do we not get clear and honest answers to straightforward questions? (rather than avoiding them altogether)

Like…

1. What is the Council’s insurance excess?
2. Do ratepayers pick up the excess?
3. Does Council in collaboration with other Councils not self insure?
(In effect using ratepayers funds to pay for insurance claims)
4.If not who are the Council’s insurers?

But even more fundamentally why can’t the Mayor apologise and save the Osbournes and himself some grief and more importantly save the ratepayers some much needed rates funding for more worthwhile and important causes, as well as using staff time more profitably. Or are we dealing with over enlarged egos and excessive arrogance?

We do after all live in a supposedly democratic country. Information is key to a democratic society not some massaged and truncated version of the truth promulgated by the Comms. dept. and overseen by its legal team.

Is fake news alive and well in Kapiti?

So Mayor do the right thing and apologise;—- you will be seen as a better person as a result.