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Court to hear Rotorua election challenge

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/11/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">A judge has agreed to hear a legal challenge to the outcome of the Rotorua mayoral election later this month.</span> © Getty Images A judge has agreed to hear a legal challenge to the outcome of the Rotorua mayoral election later this month. Failed Rotorua mayoral candidate Reynold Macpherson has won a bid to have a petition of inquiry challenging the outcome of last month's election heard by a judge.

However he has lost a late bid to challenge the election of 10 councillors.

The council's lawyer, Lachlan Muldowney, argued that the elections for mayor and councillors were two separate entities and as Dr Macpherson hadn't stood for the council he wasn't entitled to include it in his petition.

Judge Kevin Kelly agreed a preliminary hearing in the Rotorua District Court on Thursday.

The substantive hearing was set down for November 29 with the judge saying it could run for four days.

Dr Macpherson is challenging the mayoral election outcome on the grounds the council's chief executive Geoff Williams withheld findings of a public perception survey until after the election.

He claims this was because the survey was unfavourable towards sitting mayor Steve Chadwick and existing councillors.

He also claims a series of advertorials run into the lead-up to the elections were misleading because they were based on the outcome of the 2015 survey.

At Thursday's hearing Mr Williams was granted leave to be added as an additional party to the hearing after barrister Phillip Cornege submitted he needed legal representation.

He said this was because the petition was all about Mr Williams' conduct and if it succeeded the consequences could be particularly significant for him in his present role with the Rotorua District Council and into the future.

Dr Macpherson, an academic who represented himself, said it was in the interests of natural justice that the court grant the request.

Mrs Chadwick, a former Minister of Conservation in the Helen Clark-led Labour government polled 2863 votes ahead of Dr MacPherson when then final election count was ratified in mid-October.

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