Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Guy Hallwrightcase: Office insults heard in court

Financial analyst Guy Hallwright was convicted of GBH with reckless disregard. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Financial analyst Guy Hallwright was convicted of GBH with reckless disregard. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Forsyth Barr's managing director was referred to as a "pompous twat" with a "small brain" and "half formed personality", the investment firm's lawyer told the Employment Court hearing Guy Hallwright's case today.

Hallwright, a former senior investment analyst with the company, has appealed to the court after he failed to be reinstated to his job by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) earlier this year.

The ERA had determined his conviction for running over a man in 2010 had damaged the reputation of his former employer and his dismissal was justified.

Forsyth Barr's lawyer Peter Churchman told the court that Hallwright's attitude towards the firm was a cause for concern and indicated reinstatement was not an appropriate remedy.

"In particular, the plaintiff and his wife have had communications where [Forsyth Barr managing director Neil Paviour-Smith] has been described as a 'pompous twat', and that his life must be a 'struggle' when he has a 'small brain' and 'half formed personality'."

Mr Churchman submitted that Hallwright appeared to blame Forsyth Barr for everything that had happened to him, rather than admitting he was culpable and and had caused significant embarrassment to the firm.

Hallwright is seeking reinstatement to his job as well as $137,500 lost wages, a bonus he should have received of $63,000, and $10,000 compensation for hurt and humiliation.

In the event the reinstatement claim is not successful, he is seeking reimbursement for lost earnings totalling $230,000.

His lawyer, Harry Waalkens QC, said Hallwright had been extremely upset and embarrassed by the dismissal, which he said was the result of "excessive, negative and unbalanced" media reporting.

"If the court considers that the plaintiff was responsible for the publicity - that is that it was also part of his conduct (denied) - then a fair and reasonable employer ought only be entitled to rely upon the consequences of reasonable publicity in that regard."

Mr Waalkens also said the dismissal was procedurally unfair in that alternatives were not given proper consideration; Forsyth Barr had failed to genuinely consider information Hallwright put forward; and it had failed to adequately consider the finding of Auckland District Court Judge Raoul Neave that the consequences of Hallwright's crime were out of proportion to his culpability.

Also, during the two years Hallwright had continued working at Forsyth Barr following the incident, he was never told his job might be at risk.

Hallwright's evidence was that there would not be any tension between himself and his colleagues, including Mr Paviour-Smith.

The primary reason for him bringing the case to court was to repair the damage that had been done to his reputation, Mr Waalkens said.

Hallwright was dismissed after being sentenced in August last year to 250 hours of community work and was ordered to pay $20,000 in reparation to Sung Jin Kim, whose legs were broken when Hallwright struck him then drove away in an incident on Mt Eden Rd in September 2010.

In June, a jury found him guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard. A more serious charge was dismissed.

Employment Court judge Christina Inglis reserved her decision.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 31 Aug 2014 05:01:49 Processing Time: 649ms