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CEO defends part in V8 fiasco

Published: 6:58AM Monday October 31, 2011 Source: Fairfax

Controversial Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt has defended his involvement in the Hamilton V8s fiasco, following a damning report on the deal by Audit New Zealand.

The report has already claimed the scalp of one high-ranking local government official following its release last week.

Former Hamilton City Council mayor and chief executive Michael Redman resigned as chief executive of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development following the publication of the report, which scrutinised the council's acquisition of the V8 Supercars event.

Marryatt was chief executive of the council during Redman's mayoralty, before leaving in May 2007 to take up the top job in Christchurch.

But Marryatt said he had a "clear conscience" about his role in the deal. He said many criticisms in the report dealt with issues which occurred after his departure.

"I didn't falsify any reports, I didn't breach any delegations ... I've done nothing wrong."

Hamilton ratepayers paid nearly $36 million to host three races from 2008 to 2010. The deal was handed over to V8 Supercars Australia last year after the original race promoter collapsed.

The report said Redman had paid more than $3m to the creditors of the race promoter without authorisation from councillors, while council managers spent $18m on race infrastructure before an official contract was signed and kept the promoter's financial difficulties from councillors.

The report said Marryatt left the council before it entered into a contract with the race promoter in October 2007. But he was involved in the council's initial commitment to host the event, a process which drew criticism in the report.

Audit New Zealand said councillors were not aware of plans to host the event until Redman made a "surprise announcement" to them in February 2006.

But a "select group" within the council, including Redman and several senior staff, were aware of the opportunity up to 15 months earlier.

Marryatt said the council had considered the costs and benefits of hosting the event before making a decision, and he believed many of the report's recommendations were based on a "perfect world".