An independent report into Environment Southland's
compliance division has found no evidence of dishonesty or
fraudulent behaviour by a staff member, but has signalled the
need for improvements to processes and procedures.
The legal audit was commissioned by chief executive Rob
Phillips after allegations Environment Southland (ES) staff
member Chris McMillan altered a police document and made a
false statement during two separate prosecutions taken by the
The audit was carried out by Auckland environmental lawyer
Karenza de Silva.
Announcing the results of the audit yesterday, Mr Phillips
said her report contained "good news and bad news".
"The good news is the allegations are not correct. The bad
news is improvement is needed in many of our processes and
The report made seven recommendations for improvement. Mr
Phillips, who only took over as chief executive in August,
said he accepted the findings and would immediately implement
"The present situation does not meet my expectations of a
high standard of practice by Environment Southland staff. The
audit has found there is a need for improvement across the
board and I will make it my priority to ensure that this
occurs," he said.
No other prosecutions or pending prosecutions had been
affected, Mr Phillips said.
Mr McMillan did not alter a police document but altered an ES
form which a police officer had already filled in relating to
a stock truck inspected for effluent leakage. Ms de Silva
found there was an understanding between police and ES staff
where both would use ES forms to record truck inspection
Mr Phillips said yesterday it was unlikely ES would use
police to routinely inspect stock trucks in the future, and
there would be an end to both organisations using the same
In the second case, Mr McMillan read the court incorrect
information in his evidence and did not correct it until he
Ms de Silva said her view was Mr McMillan made a mistake
because he did not check his evidence before reading it in
Mr Phillips said he was "not at all comfortable" Mr McMillan
had not checked his evidence before reading it and had told
Mr McMillan and other staff there must not be a repeat.
There would be no disciplinary action against Mr McMillan, he
The audit had cost between $10,000 and $12,000, Mr Phillips
said, calling it "a good investment".