Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

MP sorry but rejects most allegations

The key witness to National MP Aaron Gilmore's actions in a Hanmer hotel says he is certain about his account of the incident despite the MP rejecting nearly all of the allegations about his behaviour.

Mr Gilmore offered a heartfelt apology for his dispute with hotel staff yesterday while challenging most of the details published about it.

The 59th-placed list MP was at first contrite, then defensive in his first public appearance since he was accused of abusing a waiter who had refused to sell him a bottle of wine after a dinner with his partner and friends last week.

He admitted to being rude and arrogant and accepted he may have been a bully: "If there was a dickhead that night it was me."

Mr Gilmore became choked up when speaking about the week of "hell" he had put his partner and family through. But he argued that most of the allegations made by witnesses were untrue.

The Christchurch MP said he never asked wait staff "Do you know who I am?".

He said he did not threaten to use the Prime Minister's influence to get the waiter sacked. And he continued to lay the blame for the dispute on the entire group of people he had dined with.

Mr Gilmore said he showed the waiter his business card because he felt that as an MP he had a good grasp of liquor laws and believed he was being unfairly denied a bottle of wine because he was not drunk. He told the waiter he understood he could be fired if he served a drunk person.

The MP claimed he had consumed three glasses of wine and two beers over four hours. His friend and Christchurch lawyer Andrew Riches, who was the central witness to the incident, had consumed "as much if not more drink than I".

Mr Riches said yesterday he stood by the statement he released last week, which said Mr Gilmore had been the only person in the group to behave badly and accused him of invoking the Prime Minister's office.

Mr Gilmore said Mr Riches had not lied, but the lawyer had accused him of saying things that he had not said.

He believed he still had a contribution to make to Parliament, and would have to learn how to show "far more dignity, humility and grace". Neither the hotel nor Mr Riches has lodged a formal complaint.

When asked whether Mr Gilmore would get a good placing on the 2014 party list, Prime Minister John Key said: "Let's wait and see."

- NZ Herald

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