Deon Swiggs' election defeat stands - judge

Supporters of Deon Swiggs lodged a petition in the Christchurch District Court claiming the...
Supporters of Deon Swiggs lodged a petition in the Christchurch District Court claiming the outcome of the election was void. Photo: RNZ/Eleisha Foon
A judge has ruled the outcome of the Christchurch City Council election which saw Deon Swiggs lose his seat is valid.

Mr Swiggs lost his Central Ward seat to Jake McLellan after allegations made by three people as young as 13 claimed Mr Swiggs had engaged in inappropriate late-night messaging, and insisted on hugs instead of handshakes.

Supporters of Mr Swiggs lodged a petition in the Christchurch District Court in November, as they claimed the outcome of the election was void.

They argued that the allegations published about Mr Swiggs "were gravely defamatory of him and extremely damaging to his appeal to voters to the extent they must have destroyed his prospects of success in the election."

They also argued that the allegations were deliberately released to the media by Canterbury Youth Workers Collective to sabotage Mr Swiggs' campaign.

However, in his final decision published on Monday, Judge Paul Kellar said the publishing of allegations did not amount to an offence under the Local Electoral Act 2001.

"More importantly, the [decision to publish the allegations] are protected by the right to freedom of expression even if they tended to bring the candidate into disrepute."

Judge Kellar said even if the decision to publish did amount to an irregularity, there was not enough evidence to prove that they would have materially affected the result of the election.

 

suv-updated-banner.jpg

Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter