SECRET TAPING: Councillor admits planting device, weapons seized

By John Cousins

Besieged Tauranga councillor Hayden Evans has confessed to secretly taping councillors' conversations in an attempt to pin down who was behind leaks that threaten his political future.
He left a dictaphone running in his pigeon hole in the councillors' lounge on June 2 and then left the room where he knew councillors would be gathering after a meeting.
The taping has been called "absolutely unforgivable" by Cr Mike Baker, who said he could no longer trust Cr Evans.
But Cr Evans defended his actions, saying organised leaks to the public have emanated from inside the lounge - a room off the debating chamber where councillors relax after meetings.
The bugging was the latest in a series of revelations that began on May 26 when Cr Wayne Moultrie flushed Cr Evans out into the open on his $11,000 worth of unpaid rates.
Cr Evans also disclosed yesterday that police entered the Civic Building last Tuesday to escort him back to the station to surrender his firearms licence for a semi-automatic AK-47 replica rifle, a .22 rifle and a shotgun.
Tauranga police revealed Cr Evans' firearms licence was revoked and weapons seized because of safety concerns.
Western Bay police area commander Inspector Mike Clement today responded to Cr Evans' statements, saying it was an issue about whether someone was safe with firearms.
"This is about everybody's safety, including his, and I am not making any apologies for that."
"I had concerns about his safety with firearms and made a decision to revoke his licence and secure his firearms."
Mr Clement said the decision was based on information received from several quarters, including inside and outside the council.
He declined to go into detail, except to say that people came forward with genuinely held concerns.
"I have a requirement to satisfy myself that he is a fit and proper person under the Act."
Mr Clement said Cr Evans had held a firearms licence for about two years.
Cr Evans said police were acting on what had been interpreted as a threat against council's intention to lay a pipeline across his rural block at Ohauiti.
He admitted to saying that council would take the land needed for the pipeline "over my dead body".
"They took that as a threat on their (councillors') lives."
Cr Evans said he had left the Civic Building on an errand when police arrived.

Police subsequently revoked his licence and seized his firearms.
"The Mayor wants me thrown out ... these gentlemen are doing everything in their power to make me crack.".
Cr Evans said he did not intend to resign from council "at this stage".
He said he disclosed his secret recording during a heated conversation with Mayor Stuart Crosby about his integrity.
Cr Evans said the tape disclosed discussions among councillors about his planned trip to America - a trip for which airfares would be paid from his Visa Card air dollars.
He also heard conversations relating to the pipeline easement which council has been in negotiations on since 2005. He said it showed that councillors were in possession of incorrect information.
Asked about his state of mind, Cr Evans said that recent events had destabilised the relationship with his girlfriend and he was devastated when they split up.
Councillors knew Cr Evans would not be in the lounge after the June 2 meeting because he had told them that he had to attend a Tenancy Tribunal Hearing.
 

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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