Honey honey, don’t conceal it

In the world of real estate Martin Honey’s always been considered safe as houses. Now the walls are closing in on the high-flying Auckland agent. The lyrics of ABBA’s Honey, Honey says “Honey honey, don’t conceal it, ah-hah, honey honey”. In the third part of a special Whaleoil investigation, we examine what it was that he did conceal with the help of the Real Estate Agent Disciplinary Tribunal.


by Stephen Cook

THE INTEGRITY of one of the key players in the Martin Honey real estate saga is in serious question in the wake of compelling new proof suggesting clear bias against the men who first raised the issues.

The allegations are included in a detailed affidavit obtained by Whaleoil from Lois West, who six years ago worked as a real estate agent with Honey, who is now facing the possibility of career-ending misconduct charges.

She is demanding a top-level inquiry into the tribunal’s handling of the case. She believes the tribunal did not act “legitimately” and arrived at a decision that based on the evidence was clearly wrong.

Phillip (top and Dermot Nottingham

Phillip (top) and Dermot Nottingham

West has now emerged a central figure in the case after a High Court ruling criticising the manner in which the Real Estate Agent Disciplinary Tribunal dealt with her evidence back in 2014. It found the tribunal did not give sufficient weight to her evidence supporting the complainants in the case, Dermot Nottingham, his brother Phillip and friend Robert McKinney.

The three men claim Honey profited at their expense by running a website for Re-Max after he had left the franchise for rivals Ray White.

Honey maintained he was unaware that listings posted with Ray White were also appearing on the Re-Max site – but now plenty of evidence is emerging to the contrary.

This is evidence the tribunal, who last year ruled on the matter in Honey’s favour has either ignored or chosen to give insufficient weight to.

The tribunal’s inexplicable handling of the matter led to a High Court review of the allegations against Honey and eventually a finding in favour of the appellants.

West claimed the tribunal’s reporting of her evidence in its decision was “completely false and misleading”.

“This incomprehensibly false reporting of my clear and concise oral evidence… deeply concerns me,” she said in her affidavit.

Also of concern was the fact the tribunal had removed evidence given by Honey at the hearing where he admitted meeting her in July 2009 about the website issue.

“… the finding of honesty in relation to the tribunal’s assertion that Martin Honey never knew about the Re-Max website until 18 April 2010 is completely impossible given Martin Honey’s own evidence.”

The question is how the tribunal could get things so wrong?

Robert McKinney

Robert McKinney

There are several theories, none of which reflect well on the integrity of the tribunal who are expected to act without fear or favour when dealing with complaints of this nature.

Fortunately for the appellants the High Court ruling restores some sanity to proceedings.

The ruling means the case against Honey, which includes damning evidence from West, now goes back to the tribunal for what the appellants hope is more rigorous examination.

It’s still not clear why the tribunal chose to ignore such compelling evidence, but critics like West and the Nottingham’s say they have an idea.

They point to corruption within the tribunal and a desire to ”protect their mate Honey” at all costs.

In West’s affidavit to the tribunal, she confirms Honey’s “guilt”, claiming she confronted him in July 2009 about the listings being on the two sites and how that didn’t seem right.

“I asked if (he) could do what he was doing and he replied definitely not, as it was not right,” she stated in her affidavit.

At that meeting, which was nine months before Honey claims he was first told the listings were on both sites, he promised to “take care of it” but never did.

martin-honey

UNDER THE HAMMER: Martin Honey

There were other staff who knew about what was going on, she said.

In her affidavit, West is also highly critical of the manner in which she was treated by the tribunal and lawyers for Honey, who were trying to suggest the Nottingham’s had somehow intimidated her into giving evidence against their client.

She said the allegations were completely unfounded.

Equally concerning was how tribunal members, including Judge Barber, tried to get her to change her evidence in favour of the position adopted by Honey, she said.

She deduced from that, and the intimidating way in which they spoke to appellant Dermot Nottingham, that they were “somewhat biased”.

There was one incident, she recalled, where Dermot Nottingham objected to a question and was shouted down by a tribunal member.

In closing, West said she could not see how the tribunal could have reported such “falsehoods” in its ruling but hoped those issues would be suitably addressed by an inquiry into the matter.

Our investigation continues.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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