Council boss in legal stoush after being stood down
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Dr Hemmerling foreshadowed defamation action in a letter sent to Playford Mayor Glenn Docherty in which he outlined a series of alleged council failings in managing the complaint against him.
The letter, a copy of which has been obtained by The Advertiser, states that the nature of the complaint against Dr Hemmerling, pictured, involved “allegedly inappropriate comments” made to the complainant but that it was resolved through an “informal request of the complainant”.
KelledyJones law firm then conducted a preliminary review of workplace safety at the council which led to a recommendation at a confidential council meeting on Monday, that Dr Hemmerling be stood down pending a more detailed independent review.
In the letter, lawyer Greg Griffin said his client was not provided with a copy of advice that council relied upon to stand him down “effective immediately” the next day.
“Mr Hemmerling has not been afforded an opportunity to respond in any way to what we understand are serious accusations of misconduct and mismanagement made against him in the KelledyJones Lawyers Report,” Mr Griffin wrote in the five-page letter.
“Council has acted in an extraordinary and unlawful manner in the way in which it has conducted this process.
“We understand that a raft of serious allegations are made against Mr Hemmerling in the KelledyJones Report which were repeated in the chamber.
“We are instructed to pursue action under the Defamation Act against those responsible for the publication of untrue and defamatory statements made about Mr Hemmerling as to his conduct as the Chief Executive Officer … and his ability to manage staff culture.”
Mr Griffin said that Dr Hemmerling was “severely prejudiced” in pursuing the legal action due to what he claims is a failure of the council to advise him of the “precise nature” of the allegations against him.
Dr Hemmerling told The Advertiser that he strenuously denied any wrongdoing but declined to comment directly on the matter.
Mr Griffin said the council had ignored an earlier consultant’s report, which was the subject of an external review by Fisher Jeffries law firm, which was “entirely supportive” of Dr Hemmerling’s position. “I can confirm that we intend to launch Supreme Court proceedings for defamation,” Mr Griffin said.
The Advertiser had sought comment from the council and Mr Docherty.