Former mayor reveals legal battle costs

Garry Moore

Former Mayor Garry Moore has revealed how much it cost to fight legal action taken against him by a senior city council boss.

Mr Moore was sued last year for $500,000 by the head of the city council’s three waters and waste John Mackie.

Mr Mackie alleged he was defamed over comments Mr Moore made, suggesting Mr Mackie was pushing the interests of pro-chlorine group Water New Zealand.

The legal action was dropped, but Mr Moore revealed this week it had cost him $20,000 in legal fees.

The lawsuit and allegations were dropped after discussions between the pair mediated by former SCIRT value manager Rod Cameron at the end of last year, said Mr Moore.

“The case was a result of a misunderstanding. All it took was a few conversations and we found out we got on famously,” Mr Moore said.

“I’m interested in public debate about public issues and that’s what I will continue doing. This particular debate cost me $20,000, usually it just costs me a beer or a coffee.”

Mr Mackie sought $500,000 in damages as he said Mr Moore made defamatory allegations that he was pushing the interests of pro-chlorination group Water New Zealand.

Sources have confirmed that Mr Mackie has resigned from his role at the city council.

However, a city council spokesperson said it could not comment on specific employment cases for privacy reasons. Mr Mackie did not respond to questions from The Star.

Mr Mackie was appointed head of three waters and waste in 2016, which runs the city’s water supply, stormwater and sewerage systems.

Mr Mackie is a board member of Water New Zealand. In October, the city council canned its membership of the organisation, due to concerns it was pushing for mandatory chlorination.

The three waters and waste team was also criticised in a draft report, which investigated how the city’s drinking water came to need chlorination.

Mr Mackie asked for changes in the final report to say his unit had been under-resourced.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said chlorinating the city’s water may have been avoided if councillors had been made aware of the issue with wellheads sooner.