Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Hallwright fails to win back job

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

Guy Hallwright has failed in his bid to win back his job with Forsyth Barr after the Employment Relations Authority determined his conviction for running over a man had damaged the company's reputation.

The former senior investment analyst sought reinstatement or about $600,000 for lost wages, compensation, hurt and humiliation.

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

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

Forsyth Barr managing director Neil Paviour-Smith told the ERA extensive media coverage of the case, which included many references to Forsyth Barr, had brought the company into disrepute and impaired Hallwright's ability to do his job.

"The integrity and probity of senior employees in the investment industry is of enormous importance, with public confidence being critical in the marketplace," he said.

"Mr Hallwright's name and that of [Forsyth Barr] had been inextricably linked."

Hallwright argued the incident occurred outside work and, beyond naming Forsyth Barr as the employer, had no bearing on his job or how he did it, or on the company's business.

He submitted that the media coverage was not balanced and did not accurately reflect the evidence of the case, and therefore should not be grounds for his dismissal.

ERA member Rosemary Monaghan accepted some early media reports in particular had suggested Hallwright had become angry, deliberately run over Mr Kim and fled the scene. But she dismissed the totality of Hallwright's claims.

"The existence of underlying conduct means it cannot be said that the media attention, rather than the conduct, was the cause of any damage to [Forsyth Barr's] reputation. I do not accept that any such damage can be laid at the feet of the media," she said.

"Even if media coverage included inaccuracy and over-statement, the fact remains that the serious incident described in this determination occurred and Mr Hallwright received a criminal conviction as a result."

She found that Forsyth Barr's conclusions were those of a fair and reasonable employer.

Mr Paviour-Smith said after the decision: "We need to think about our business, and it's just a lesson that things can occur which could cause your employment to be at risk through activities that are outside of the workplace. How we conduct ourselves is relevant, and that's the view we took."

Mr Kim said his legs had improved in the past few months, but he was still in pain and would require more operations.

He was looking into the possibility of a civil case to recover his costs.

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