Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Leaders mum on $250k bill into Len Brown affair

Outlay on review into mayor's affair believed to have soared but city chiefs won't speak

Auckland Mayor Len Brown. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Auckland Mayor Len Brown. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The cost of a review into Auckland Mayor Len Brown's affair with council adviser Bevan Chuang has reportedly risen to $250,000.

But despite widespread reporting of the figure, Mr Brown, deputy mayor Penny Hulse and council chief executive Stephen Town will not confirm it.

Former council chief executive Doug McKay said before Christmas that the EY (Ernst & Young) report and associated costs would exceed $100,000.

As well as employing EY to conduct the review, which was meant to take no longer than four weeks and stretched to seven weeks, the council has had to pay for legal advice from Crown Solicitor Simon Moore, QC.

There may also be costs for the Auditor-General, who was involved in the process.

Mr Brown's office said he had no comment on the matter at this stage.

Mr Town and Ms Hulse, who is chairing a group of five councillors who are negotiating a contribution from Mr Brown towards the review costs, would not answer questions yesterday.

The EY report found Mr Brown did not inappropriately use resources of the council during his affair with Ms Chuang but found he failed to declare more than $39,000 in free hotel rooms and upgrades.

As part of a censure of the mayor before Christmas, councillors said Mr Brown should make an "appropriate contribution" towards the cost of the review.

Expectations are rising for the settlement by Mr Brown to be made public. Three of the five councillors involved in negotiations believe it is the wish of the group to make the settlement public. Mr Brown has previously told the Herald he would abide by the councillors' wishes.

The executive director of the Taxpayers' Union, Jordan Williams, questioned how the original budget of $75,000 had turned into a $250,000 cost blow-out.

Mr Jordan said the union understood it was Mr Brown's lack of co-operation and dependence on lawyers that caused the escalation.

A council spokesman said councillors' discussions were ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage.

- NZ Herald

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