7 Jul 2012

Council boss warned after paying visit to columnist

11:33 am on 7 July 2012

Whangarei District Council's chief executive has been cautioned by the council after an incident involving a newspaper columnist.

Mark Simpson paid a visit to Nickie Muir after she wrote a column in the Northern Advocate suggesting that he had been at the council too long.

In her next column Ms Muir reported that Mr Simpson had come to see her at work and asked questions she found alarming, such as where her daughter went to school.

She said Mr Simpson also asked her who she was, and told her his wife's family had been in Whangarei for generations.

Mr Simpson wrote a letter of apology to the paper, saying he had not intended to intimidate or bully Ms Muir.

But Whangarei mayor Morris Cutforth says a number of ratepayers complained and councillors met on Thursday to decide if Mr Simpson had breached its Employees' Code of Conduct.

Mr Cutforth says the council decided that no breach occurred, but has warned Mr Simpson his actions were unwise and should not be repeated.

Northern Advocate editor Craig Cooper says while columnists must be able to take what they dish out, there are boundaries, and he is satisfied with the outcome of the disciplinary hearing.