There’s a line between protecting staff from abuse and meddling in democratic functions, and Horowhenua District Council’s chief executive David Clapperton has crossed it.
This week’s sensational revelation that, according to a leaked audit report, Clapperton was snooping on emails, is inexcusable.
His position is now untenable and he must step aside – at least for the meantime – and allow an official independent investigation into malpractice at the council.
The Office of the Ombudsman or a Government-appointed investigator must move in to report to a public that has lost confidence in the council.
Horowhenua’s local body politics is unusually robust, but Clapperton’s decision a couple of years ago to "blacklist" email addresses, including one belonging to now mayor and then councillor Michael Feyen, was wrong.
Just why a busy chief executive would think such snooping is a good use of his time is hard to fathom, as is the fact he granted himself the power to look over potentially confidential correspondence.
An official investigation needs to start now.
- Jimmy Ellingham, News Director