Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Len Brown silent on hotel bills

Councillor says 'entitlement mentality' unchanged since Manukau credit card scandal

Len Brown and wife Shan Inglis. Photo / Doug Sherring
Len Brown and wife Shan Inglis. Photo / Doug Sherring

Auckland Mayor Len Brown will not say if he has received free hotel rooms as pressure mounts on him to come clean on overnight stays in the city.

The use of hotel rooms by Mr Brown is believed to be at the centre of a legal wrangle holding up the release of the Ernst & Young (now EY) report into use of council resources during the mayor's extra-marital affair with Bevan Chuang.

When the Herald asked Mr Brown if he had received free accommodation at Auckland hotels during his time as mayor, a spokesman said he was not commenting on any aspect of the review while it was ongoing.

The silence on the issue prompted right-wing councillor Dick Quax to liken the latest twist in the mayoral sex scandal to Mr Brown's actions when he was mayor of Manukau.

Mr Quax, a former Manukau city councillor, said Mr Brown had enjoyed countless coffees and lunches on his council credit card, paid for by some of the poorest people in the country.

"It seems that his entitlement mentality has not changed. He has no reason to stay overnight in a hotel when he has a car and driver at his disposal 24/7," Mr Quax said.

Mr Brown has denied claims by Ms Chuang that some of the rooms he booked for the pair at the Langham, SkyCity Grand and Hilton hotels for sex were freebies, saying he paid for any private accommodation.

Rooms at SkyCity Grand start at about $200 and rise to $400-plus for a suite.

The Herald understands Mr Brown was not impressed when the first draft of the EY report raised his use of hotel rooms outside his stays with Ms Chuang.

The mayor is known to have used hotel rooms when he had late-night and early-morning commitments in the city, which came up as part of the EY review.

If Mr Brown did receive free hotel rooms, he would be obliged to declare them in the register of members' interests if the value was more than $300. He made no declarations for hospitality in the 2012 declarations of interest.

Yesterday, the marketing and communication manager for the Langham, Veronica Johnston, said "We don't discuss our guests". The duty manager at the Hilton did not return a phone message, but the hotel previously said it would not give complimentary rooms to Mr Brown. The SkyCity Grand does not comment on guests for privacy reasons.

Mr Brown is taking legal advice after being handed a draft copy of the EY review to ensure it is factually accurate and provide feedback.

Before Mr Brown won the Super City mayoralty in 2010 he was embroiled in a scandal over the use of his council credit card as mayor of Manukau City.

He admitted making personal purchases, including a $148 mini hi-fi system and $316 for a family event at Auckland's Rendezvous Hotel. He reimbursed the council for personal spending of $638.27.


Len Brown in the spotlight

June 2010: As Mayor of Manukau, Brown admits personal spending on council card, reimburses $638.27.

October 2013: Two-year affair revealed.

November 2013: Brown does not comply with code of conduct over trip to Hong Kong.

December 2013: Brown's hotel use shrouded in secrecy.

- NZ Herald

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