7 May 2013

I was out of line, MP Aaron Gilmore admits

10:28 pm on 7 May 2013

National backbench MP Aaron Gilmore says he was rude and arrogant to a hotel staff member, but denies he threatened to use his influence with the Prime Minister's Office to have him fired.

Mr Gilmore gave a media conference at Parliament on Tuesday and apologised for an incident at a Hanmer Springs restaurant on 27 April.

But exactly what was said in the exchange remains in dispute.

Another guest at the table, Christchurch lawyer Andrew Riches, says that when Mr Gilmore was refused alcohol he threatened to have the Prime Minister's Office intervene and end the waiter's employment.

Mr Gilmore says he did ask to buy a bottle of wine when leaving the restaurant and was refused, and while he was rude he did not use the words Mr Riches says he did.

He gave this account of the exchange with the waiter:

"I gave him my card, he asked 'Who are you?' and I said 'I'm a Member of Parliament, I have an understanding of the alcohol laws and I understand you can be fired for serving drunk persons.'

"I was then asked, 'Do you know the Prime Minister'. My response was 'Yes, I work for him'."

At times close to tears, Mr Gilmore told the media he was not proud of his actions.

While the Christchurch list MP disputes Andrew Riches' version of events, he does say his behaviour during the exchange was unbecoming and that he did call the staff member "a dick" or "dickhead".

"I am sorry for my arrogance and rudeness to the barman when I was leaving the restaurant after I paid for the bill.

"If there was a dickhead that night, it was me. I have written to the Heritage Hotel offering my unreserved apologies. I was out of line."

Mr Gilmore says he will not resign as an MP and has more to offer Parliament.

On Tuesday Andrew Riches released a statement, saying he stands by his account and the events of the past week have not caused him to resile in any way.

Mr Riches says he will not make any further comment but will allow the public to draw their own conclusions.

Gilmore has support - PM

The Prime Minister says Aaron Gilmore continues to have his support as a National list MP.

John Key says Mr Gilmore is aware of the expectation that he treat people with respect and he is sure that his behaviour will be better in future.

Mr Key says the MP has some work to do with the New Zealand public to prove that he has a contribution to make.

Labour Party leader David Shearer says Aaron Gilmore should have fronted before now to apologise for his behaviour.

Mr Shearer says the MP seems to have been pushed into an apology, and he can't understand why he didn't say sorry from the very beginning.

He believes Mr Gilmore has a long road ahead to redeem himself and will have to prove to the public that he is fit to be an MP.