Crux leak: QLDC investigation finds Niki Gladding guilty of "serious breach."

by Peter Newport - Aug 31, 2020

A scathing investigation report into the leak to Crux by Councillor Niki Gladding of a “Wanaka wide body jets” reference in a QLDC consultant’s airport report has led to a recommendation that Councillor Gladding be “re-briefed” on the importance of councillors not sharing confidential information. The report finds that her decision to share information with Crux was a "serious breach of the Council's Code of Conduct."

The report also recommends that Councillor Gladding has access to “a former experienced councillor from outside the district” for future support and advice.

Wanaka airport: a future destination for wide body jets?

Speaking to Crux this afternoon, after the release of the investigation report as part of a Council Agenda for later this week, Niki Gladding said that she was sorry for what she had done but still felt the move was justified.

"Nothing leads me to believe that the wide body jets reference was a mistake.  They'd looked at wide body jets for Queenstown and decided it's not workable. So looking into the future it does seem that that might have been an option (for Wanaka.)  My concern around that was that we had clearly stated to the public that wide body jets were not being considered for Wanaka."

QLDC claims that the reference to wide body jets at Wanaka airport was just “an error” and made a comprehensive complaint to the NZ Media Council against Crux in connection with the matter. The complaint was partially upheld and centred on whether Crux had given QLDC sufficient right of reply in our coverage. Crux wrote to QLDC twice seeking information about the “wide body jets” Wanaka reference but was denied access to official documents.

Councillor Gladding has told Crux today that council managers plan to avoid having the investigation discussed at Thursday’s council meeting and says that she is disappointed the QLDC has not accepted the investigator’s recommendation that the incident be used as a chance for QLDC to look at its own policies around the sharing of information.

Niki Gladding explained to Crux that she felt conflicted between a duty to the public and a duty to the council.

"I didn't want to hang on to that knowledge myself, knowing that we had said the opposite in public. It was a tricky situation and I understand that it did cause an issue for other councillors. I'm happy to take the consequences for it, but it would be great if the council was to look at the context around this situation, to sit down and talk about it. To figure out how they can maybe do things differently in the future"

Niki Gladding will keep her various committee positions at QLDC. You can read the full investigation report here.


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