Do you know who he was
By Richard Harman (author)
Aaron Gilmore; the former National MP who had to resign after haranguing a waiter demanding that he should know who he was
is in the news once again.
If he does not comply by Thursday this week with an Employment Authority determination he could face a prison term of up to three months.
This time he is the subject of an employment dispute at his company, Mighty Rocket Properties.
The company describes itself as having offices in Christchurch and Wellington and “are financial advisors to, and investors in, New Zealand and Australian organisations that are facing significant growth, challenges or opportunities.
“We have particular skills and interests in energy, especially oil and gas and new technology, mining, energy infrastructure, financial services, new media and property.”
The company derives its name from Gilmore’s fascination with rocketry and space.
When he was an MP he once put up a member’s bill proposing the establishment of a space agency in New Zealand – a suggestion promptly quashed by National’s vetting committee.
Ironically the Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Bill was eventually passed in 2017 with the Minister responsible being Transport Minister, Simon Bridges.
However And Gilmore’s career as an MP came to a crashing halt in 2013 after an incident involving a barman at a Hamner Springs Hotel during a National Party conference.
Christchurch lawyer Andrew Riches, who dined with Gilmore, was so embarrassed by the MP's behaviour that he left the waiter an apology note.
Riches alleged Gilmore asked the barman "Do you know who I am?" and threatened to have Prime Minister John Key intervene to have him sacked.
But instead Key made it clear he held him in low regard and after pressure from National Party officials, Gilmore resigned from Parliament.
Then he set up Mighty Rocket.
Earlier this year, it appears that an employee, Amanda High, launched a personal grievance case against Gilmore which was resolved when the two parties reached a settlement.
That settlement required Gilmore to pay High a total of $29,000 dollars as compensation and legal expenses.
But by October Gilmore had paid only $4700.
At that point, Employment Relations Authority member, Trish McKinnon, convened a meeting to sort the situation out.
Not only did Ms High seek her money but it appears that Gilmore had inflamed the situation with a submission he made to the Authority.
“The second aspect of the settlement agreement for which compliance is sought is the provision at paragraph 8 regarding neither party speaking ill of the other,” said McKinnon in her determination.
“ She submits that comments made about her in Mighty Rocket's statement in reply are disparaging and therefore in breach of the settlement agreement.”
Meanwhile, Gilmore claimed that the original settlement had been agreed under stress from his wife's serious illness.
The Employment Authority determination would seem to suggest that Gilmore remains convinced that ordinary courtesies and laws do not ap[ply to him.
McKinnon’s determination concluded that: “It seems Mr Gilmore had already decided not to comply with the payment terms specified in the settlement agreement at the time he entered into it on behalf of Mighty Rocket despite it being a legally binding and enforceable document.“
I do not accept Mr Gilmore's explanations for his failure to abide by the payment terms he had agreed to in entering into the settlement agreement.
“His attempted revisiting of the substantive matter was inappropriate and has no relevance to the current matter.
“Mr Gilmore's expressed intention to continue to pay Ms High the sums owing as and when he sees fit is unacceptable and in breach of the agreed terms of settlement.”
McKinnon has ordered Gilmore to pay High settlement agreement, in full, by 20 December.
“Failure by Mighty Rocket to comply with the compliance order may result in Ms High applying to the Employment Court.
“The court's powers under s 140 (6) of the Act include ordering that the person in default be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months and/or a fine not exceeding $40,000. “
McKinnon has also awarded a penalty of $6000 against Gilmore, half of which is to be paid to High and other half to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.
She said Any breach of a mediated settlement was serious and, in this instance, she had no doubt the breaches were intentional.
“They demonstrate a disregard for good faith and a cavalier attitude towards the legal process," she said.