Apology issued to Mercury Bay businessman

Grahame Christian. Photo: CFM/Facebook.

Mercury Bay resident who has been fighting for two years to clear his name has been issued with an apology.

In August 2019, NZME as the owner of NZ Herald published two articles concerning Smart Environmental Limited and its founder and then managing director, Grahame Christian.

The articles alleged that the business had engaged in inappropriate and dishonest practices concerning parts of its performance of a contract with Thames Coromandel District Council.

In a story on CFM, Grahame, who was born and raised in Thames but now lives in Whitianga, says the last two years has been hurtful, as he’d been unable to defend himself against the allegations and rumours that have continued to swirl around him following the publication of these stories.

He says the allegations were a complete surprise and the journey to clear his name started with defamation proceedings against NZME and the reporter who wrote the articles and an ex-employee of Smart Environmental Limited.

The allegations prompted Thames Coromandel District Council to engage accountancy company PwC and specialist consultancy company Morrison Low and a Private Investigator to look into the allegations.

The council published its findings on May 11, 2020, in response to the allegations in the articles.

Their findings in summary said;

  1. Smart Environmental Limited engaged in correspondence with the Council in relation to its commercial waste disposal fees from around April 2018;
  2. Smart Environmental Limited’s tolling fees were charged in reliance on that 2018 correspondence; and
  3. While there were discrepancies in relation to the waste tonnages entering the Thames-Coromandel RTS sites, based on the information provided to the investigators, the discrepancies did not appear to be significant. The Council published its findings in response to the allegations in the articles on 11 May 2020.

This has led to NZME as publisher of the NZ Herald issuing an apology and a retraction of the allegations made in the articles published in August 2019.

“I am really pleased to see the truth finally coming out and that I can speak more openly,” says Grahame.

“Thanks to the very many people who know me, and the untruths, and who have supported me throughout, I am very grateful.”

 




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