The whistleblowers who raised concerns about public funding of the America's Cup say they feared for their safety after Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton labelled them "spies" and suggested they had leaked information to other teams.
Tom Mayo and Grant Calder, the principals of event company Mayo & Calder, told the Herald they raised their concerns with the Government after attempting to raise issues about health and safety and the spending of taxpayer money internally at America's Cup Event (ACE), a largely taxpayer-funded company run within Team New Zealand's base.
But they claim they were ignored, including by ACE's chair, Tina Symmans, who they believe was unable to stand up to Dalton, despite being at least notionally in charge of him.
When Dalton discovered their involvement he quickly went public, claiming that Team New Zealand had discovered and expelled "spies" and "informants" who he suggested had been leaking information about the team.
The pair say they feared for their safety as they had their home addresses posted on popular sailing blogs, where they were cast as "traitors" following Dalton's claims.
"I had letters through my letterbox, and my wife's at home with a newborn baby, and we're s**t-scared of what happens next," Mayo said.
"Is someone about to spray on your home that 'you're a spy' and 'how dare you treat Team New Zealand [that way]?'," Mayo said, adding that he considered hiring private security for protection.
"We moved out of Auckland for a bit. You just can't deal with that."
There is no suggestion that anyone from ACE or Team New Zealand were responsible for posting the pair's details online.
ACE responded to Mayo and Calder's comments by claiming they had concerns about the company's performance. In a statement Symmans said the concerns raised by Mayo and Calder were about their ability to operate within budget.
She described her relationship with Dalton as "robust".
Mayo claims the pair have been defamed by Dalton's claims, saying they never disclosed information to anyone other than the event host partners, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and ATEED, the event arm of Auckland Council which were providing funding for the event.
They believe the way Dalton has reacted - maligning the company and launching legal action against it - highlights a lack of protection for whistleblowers.
"There is zero protection, for any whistleblower, in practice," Mayo said.
"He [Dalton] is being funded by taxpayers ... and he's allowed to do this to us, make allegations and then gag us through a lawsuit."
ACE is suing Mayo & Calder, claiming the company is responsible for a payment inadvertently made to a Hungarian scammer for around $2.8 million.
Mayo said the legal action appeared to be "blatant retaliation" because the issue was only raised months after the payment occurred, when Dalton discovered Mayo & Calder had acted as whistleblowers.
The legal action effectively ensured that Mayo & Calder would lose a contract with the Challenger of Record for the America's Cup, Luna Rossa, as that contract stipulated that the company could not be in a legal dispute with the America's Cup defenders.
A Government-commissioned report by forensic accountants Beattie Varley concluded that they had seen no evidence that event money had been misapplied, but sharply criticised the governance of ACE and Team New Zealand.
Team New Zealand claimed the report amounted to "total vindication".
Calder told the Herald that they did not believe the report was a substantive examination of the allegations that they put to the Government.
"I just want to see a proper investigation into the allegations that we've put forward."
MBIE has refused to allow Beattie Varley to speak to the Herald about its investigation.
MBIE chief executive Carolyn Tremain has refused all interview requests since early September despite maintaining that the incident had been well managed.
The Government has largely refused to answer questions about the saga. Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash said the public deserves accountability over America's Cup funding and described Dalton as a man of integrity, but would not elaborate or answer questions from the Herald.
In the weeks leading up to making a complaint the pair said they were unable to sleep due to anxiety.
After MBIE asked the pair to make their claims in a formal statement, they say they received little notice that it was being disclosed to ACE and no advance warning about the release of the final version of Beattie Varley report.
Despite that, they maintained that were the situation to arise again, they would still raise the alarm.
"You've got to do it again," Calder said.
But Calder said he was worried that other people who had concerns about behaviour at their workplace, may think twice, based on their treatment.
"If you're watching this, and you've got the same situation at your work, you'll say, 'jeez, I've seen how these guys are being treated and they're being vilified in the media and attacked and gagged, well I might just stay quiet, because that doesn't look like a good option'. That's what this says to me."