Open letter by Kerry Bolton
14 March 2018
General Secretary, NZ Labour Party
Review of Procedures and Harassment
Not private, not confidential
Dear Mr Kirton
From what I understand, you are reviewing procedures and allegations on sexual harassment in the Labour Party. There have been media references to a complaint by a woman concerning an alleged incident of two years ago.
I am not associated with the Labour Party in any way; I am not a member of any party or political organisation. I am concerned, however, that, from what I have heard, an allegation has been made about Rob McCann, concerning a supposed incident of two years ago, the allegation having been made by Penny Gaylor, formerly a Kapiti Coast District Councillor, now the holder of the Kapiti seat on the Greater Wellington Regional Council. I do not know Mr McCann, and have no favourable or unfavourable bias concerning him.
If there is such an allegation, what I can say based on personal experience, is that any allegation made by Penny Gaylor should be treated as dubious.
I was involved with a group concerning an animal welfare issue and we spoke at a meeting of the Kapiti Council. In order to silence us, Cr Janet Holborow, now the deputy mayor, alleged that I chased her through the council chamber with my walking stick. I have enough trouble walking, let alone running. Witnesses, including Cr Jackie Elliott, who were in the immediate vicinity of the alleged incident, wrote statements that no such occurrence took place. The alleged incident supposedly occurred right before the media tables, yet the Kapiti Observer reporter who was present did not see or hear anything. However, the majority of the other councillors closed ranks and supported Cr Holborow, whose aim was to have me trespassed from Council premises.
I filed misconduct complaints against all Councillors involved with this allegation. The complaints were heard at one hearing. Despite the contrary testimony from multiple witnesses, and the council’s CCTV footage, these councillors –- who formed a majority — voted en masse to reject each of my complaints.
Ms Gaylor’s involvement was particularly notable. She claimed that she saw me pursue Ms Holborow after a council meeting, from outside the chamber, Ms Holborow supposedly bashing through the doors in high drama and running back into the chamber pursued by me, walking stick raised, with Ms Holborow running around the councillors’ bench to the safety of Ms Gaylor.
Furthermore, Ms Gaylor found it opportune to further embellish her story by claiming that she returned later to the chamber to ensure the safety of any remaining staff, should I return and threaten them. Ms Gaylor gave the most fanciful of the statements of any councillor, not only proclaiming her own heroism, but congratulating Cr Holborow on her ‘courage’ in coming forward, and pontificating about KCDC’s self-proclaimed status as a ‘White Ribbon council’.
When my wife, who has ‘essential tremour’, spoke as one of my proxies during the complaints hearing, it was Cr Gaylor who badgered her so intensely that even then Mayor Ross Church told her to stop.
Without going into the many details, I only mention here that the Council’s CCTV footage indisputably disproves the allegations made by Cr Holborow and Gaylor that I chased Cr Holborow from outside the chamber back inside. The CCTV footage shows me leaving the chamber, waiting for my wife and several others to come out of the chamber, and walking out of the council premises.
My situation is long and convoluted. I refer to it insofar as it relates to Penny Gaylor. Partly due to these antics of the then Kapiti Council, as well as further representations by Cr Jackie Elliott, Rob McCann, as local representative for the White Ribbon Campaign, told Kapiti Council to stop referring to itself as ‘New Zealand’s and possibly the world’s first White Ribbon council’.
Last year, KCDC did not even mark the event.
Perhaps what I have heard from several sources in regard to Ms Gaylor complaining about Mr McCann is incorrect, or ‘false news’ as it is now called? However, should it be correct, I am solely stating what my experiences are in regard to Ms Gaylor. I attempted to address this matter at the time to Andrew Little and several others in the Labour Party, but I was met with a silence indicative of a cavalier attitude. Should you have any questions, I will readily answer them.
K R Bolton