Several Wellington City councillors say the findings of a code of conduct complaint against mayor Andy Foster should be made public immediately.
Wellington City Council is withholding the report until after it's discussed behind closed doors at a council meeting on Thursday.
One of the reasons for this, as listed on the meeting's agenda, is to maintain the effective conduct of public affairs through the protection of members, officers, employees and persons from improper pressure or harassment.
But councillors have to vote on whether to exclude the public from meetings and several are strongly against the recommendation to do so.
The Herald has learned the report found Foster shared potentially defamatory and previously discredited information before a controversial Shelly Bay vote.
The report said his behaviour breached the council's code of conduct because what he did was capable of undermining public confidence in the office to which he has been elected.
One of the recommendations is that a letter be written to formally censure Foster.
Neither the mayor or his office have responded to requests for comment since the news broke on Friday night.
Councillor Nicola Young told the Herald the report should be released ahead of the meeting on Thursday and deliberations should be done in public.
"Surely there's nothing to hide?"
Young said she and her colleagues were elected to represent Wellingtonians and they should be as transparent as possible, especially considering there were no commercial sensitivities in this instance.
The situation comes less than a month after the Ombudsman ruled the council should have released a code of conduct complaint made against councillor Simon Woolf.
The Herald complained to the Ombudsman more than 16 months ago when the council refused to release the information on the grounds his privacy should be protected.
Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier accepted there is a high public interest in transparency and accountability regarding an elected official's actions and conduct.
Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons said she could not see any legal grounds to withhold the report relating to Foster and it should be released immediately as well as debated in public.
The facts in this case were broadly similar to the ones the Ombudsman recently investigated, she said.
"The council needs to learn from the recent findings of the Ombudsman and release the report into this code of conduct investigation."
But council spokesman Richard MacLean has previously told the Herald the Ombudsman's ruling would not change the council's decision-making process in the future.
"Every LGOIMA [Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act] request received by the council is assessed on its merits, and the appropriate decision is made based on the facts and information available."
Councillor Jill Day said the report should be released and the discussion held in public, considering the amount of misinformation about Shelly Bay that has already circulated.
"Sunlight is the best disinfectant."
Councillor Rebecca Matthews agreed.
"I think our papers and discussion should be public with rare exceptions and for very good reasons. I have not seen a good reason for this matter to be kept from the public."
Councillor Iona Pannett said it was a matter of public interest.
"I trust that as councillors we will all deal with the matter in a professional manner and ensure that all the people involved are treated in a respectful way and given any support they need."
Councillor Teri O'Neill said it was important the public saw the council deal with the matter in an open and transparent way.
"The mayor and elected members may feel uncomfortable, but that is not enough reason for it to be discussed with the public excluded."
Councillor Laurie Foon said she was happy for all or part of the meeting to be held in public if the health and safety of those involved has been fully considered first.
Councillor Sean Rush said he hoped the matter would be discussed in public.
"I will welcome the opportunity to back the mayor publicly."
The complaint was fairly made but it was a misdemeanour and a distraction, Rush said.
"Andy is a decent, hard-working and honourable man. Wellington is lucky to have him."
Councillor Diane Calvert said she was waiting to hear from her colleagues so they could form a view together.
"Whatever it is, I do want to ensure the process is fair and acted upon in good faith by all."
Councillor Jenny Condie, who made the code of conduct complaint against Foster, believed the findings of the investigation should be discussed publicly in the interests of transparency.
She believed the same principle considered in the Ombudsman's recent ruling should also apply in this instance.
As Foster and Condie are parties in the complaint, they will be excluded from the vote on whether to shut the public out of deliberations.
Deputy mayor Sarah Free said she would not be commenting at this stage in the interests of due process.
Councillor Simon Woolf said he has no comment to make and councillor Malcolm Sparrow said it was premature for him to comment.
Councillor Tamatha Paul did not return requests for comment.