Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Blocked email claim sparks inquiry

Council chief to investigate claims he and senior staff intercepted pair's online messages to councillors

Doug McKay. Photo /  Richard Robins
Doug McKay. Photo / Richard Robins

Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay has been asked to investigate claims he and senior staff intercepted and blocked emails addressed to councillors.

This follows claims by two people, Gary Osborne and Grace Haden, at yesterday's council meeting that their emails to councillors and local board members had been blocked.

Mr Osborne produced an email from Mr McKay, dated June 19 last year, directing the manager of democracy services, Darryl Griffin, to "case manage" Mr Osborne.

He claimed his emails to elected representatives were still being intercepted and blocked.

"Bureaucrats should not have the power to block your emails without your authority," he told councillors.

Ms Haden, who addressed councillors on corruption and accountability in the council, said her emails had also been blocked.

Outside the meeting, Mr McKay said the council had not blocked or censored anybody's email.

He said that since the start of the Auckland Council, three people, including Mr Osborne and Ms Haden, had been "case managed". He would not name the third person.

He said it was within his power to stop councillors receiving emails that contained inappropriate legal material, including one case where a person was prosecuting the council.

It was also appropriate to case-manage people who had been turned down by the council and refused to give up.

He cited one case in which one of the three people - believed to be Mr Osborne - rang a council officer 17 times in one hour.

Mr McKay said some councillors had asked not to receive emails from certain people and the council case-managed those.

Councillor Cathy Casey said nobody at the council had the right to block emails, it should never happen again and there should be anapology.

Veteran council protester Penny Bright, whose emails are not blocked, also spoke to councillors, calling for an independent investigation.

The council instructed Mr McKay to lift the block on correspondence until his investigation was complete.

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