A Waikato Regional councillor who spoke out after a "surprise demotion" criticising his fellow councillors now faces three separate code of conduct complaints against him.
In a letter sent to councillors, WRC chair Russ Rimmington told elected members there had been some code of conduct complaints and asked for them to remain confidential and to respect people's privacy.
However the Herald understands the complaints - which the Herald understands have been made by three separate councillors about their controversial colleague Fred Lichtwark - are to be investigated by Rimmington and employment lawyer and former Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker.
The complainants are understood to be Pamela Storey, Stu Husband and Barry Quayle and relate to Lichtwark and, according to sources, related to the second-term councillor's behaviour towards those elected members.
Storey and Quayle would not confirm whether they were the complainants, referring the Herald to contact Rimmington directly about the matter. Husband did not respond to the Herald's request for comment.
Waikato Regional Council, in a statement, confirmed three complaints had been made against an elected member in the past month and were going through the council's Code of Conduct process.
The council declined to provide any further information to "protect the privacy of all parties involved". The cost and completion date of the investigation was unknown at this stage.
The complaints appear to have been laid after the Herald reported Lichtwark had been demoted as a result of his community restoration committee being merged with Stu Husband's catchment management committee. Two chairs were appointed to that committee - Husband and Stu Kneebone.
Lichtwark had been rude to elected members after his demotion, a source said.
Lichtwark told the Herald at the time it was dirty politics and an attempt to get rid of him - something Rimmington strongly refuted.
Rimmington said the latest code of conduct investigation into the "serious complaints" was already underway and he hoped to have the outcome by Christmas.
"We will deal with it as promptly as we possibly can keeping within the fair process ..."
While Rimmington would not confirm the details of the complaint and those involved, it was his intention to release the outcome of the investigation once it was completed.
He said the cost of getting an external investigator "were not huge". "But it is important that we don't end up with a council that is not fractious ... it is important as chair that I see that justice is done and seen to be done".
"You've got 14 councillors and we've got a code of conduct so of course it's not 100 bloody per cent, but I call it a united council when you've got such a strong council on these matters. You saw what happened with one particular person that wasn't working in the best interest of the community - we looked at trying to rationalise the committee and it was 12-2 so I think it is a very united council."
But Lichtwark disagreed and said the complaints were "frivolous" and "unsubstantiated".
He denied he had been rude to councillors, but said he had questioned them about voting to dissolve his committee when they hadn't attended a meeting.
"I think it is trying to silence me from taking further action."
Lichtwark said he was not on council to make friends, but it was his role to govern and that is what he intended to do.
He had also been contacted by the independent investigator who advised him to respect the process and to not make any comment about it.
These are the first code of conduct complaints laid against any Waikato Regional Council councillor since the October 2019 elections.