NEWCASTLE council chief executive Jeremy Bath has been named in Parliament as the man behind the misleading and "derogatory" Scott Neylon letter to the editor writing campaign.
Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery used parliamentary privilege on Tuesday night calling for Mr Bath to be sacked, declaring the council boss had authored the letters and "shamefully abused" his $550,000 a year job funded by Newcastle ratepayers.
Ms Hornery's comments relate to dozens of letters and online comments published in media outlets over 13 years under the name Scott Neylon, which twist the truth, distort reality and follow Mr Bath's career progression, attacking his critics and supporting his employers.
"Mr Bath denies his involvement in writing of the letters," Ms Hornery said.
"It's undeniable that Mr Jeremy Bath, City of Newcastle CEO, is the author of the letters and arranged for Mr Neylon to take the fall for him."
Mr Bath, who has been close friends with Mr Neylon since before university, has denied writing the letters published in the Newcastle Herald, Sydney Morning Herald, Illawarra Mercury, Crikey and Bob Carr's blog Thoughtlines.
Four of the five most recent letters received by the Newcastle Herald under the name Scott Neylon have waged an angry campaign against Ms Hornery, others attacked fellow Hunter Labor MPs, community groups and residents.
"I call for the dismissal of the disparaged CEO, Mr Jeremy Bath, due to his involvement in the writing of the Neylon, Neylan, letters," Ms Hornery said.
She told Parliament it had been 18 weeks since the investigation into Mr Bath was launched and there has been no update from City of Newcastle.
"Our community has lost faith in the CEO and demands that this sorry City of Newcastle saga be resolved."
Ms Hornery also took aim at Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes and her Labor councillors, calling on them to publicly apologise for statements made at a council meeting in July.
"Following the release of ... the articles, City of Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes was under pressure to clean up her handpicked CEO's mess," Ms Hornery said.
"A mess that brought City of Newcastle into disrepute.
"At their July City of Newcastle council meeting, councillors were forced to respond to questions about the damaging letters.
"Cr Carol Duncan spoke, proposing a motion accusing me of committing a criminal act by leaking private electoral roll information to journalists. Six other councillors willingly endorsed this motion and the false and defamatory remarks made by Cr Carol Duncan.
"They were based on no evidence, suggesting I've done something wrong."
Ms Hornery told Parliament that the remarks were designed to "humiliate" her.
"They were concocted to take the heat off the Scott Neylon debacle and its direct links to City of Newcastle," she said.
"Consequently, I sought legal advice and sent defamation concern notices to the councillors involved. I have reserved my rights to subsequent legal action."
She went further to call for a "public apology and retraction of the baseless lies and defamatory statements and endorsements from councillors Nelmes, Clausen, Duncan, Winney-Baartz, Wood, Adamczyk and Richardson".
In the letters, Mr Neylon claims to have lived at eight different Hunter addresses, including on either side of Mr Bath's house, while his own website says he lives "permanently" in Japan.
The Newcastle Herald revealed in September that the same mobile phone number was used to submit letters to the editor under the names Scott Neylon and Jason Sivo, and the same IP address was used to submit pro-clubs comments on Mr Carr's blog under the names Scott Neylon and Austin Yule.
The matching IP address on both online posts was assigned to ClubsNSW, and was traced to the Sydney headquarters of the powerful clubs' lobby group, where Mr Bath was working as media relations manager at the time.
"Mr Neylon has intricate knowledge of the Newcastle political scene, and in his letters he said that he 'bumped into me on down the street'. A lie," Ms Hornery said.
"He also said he was a pensioner and had teenage children. More lies.
"Mr Bath's history of astroturfing campaigns started when he worked at ClubsNSW and is well known. While at ClubsNSW his IP addresses were linked to online comments about former Premier Bob Carr's blog connected to an account called 'Scott Neylon'."
Despite initially agreeing to speak with the Herald, Mr Neylon only communicates via email and regularly side-steps questions he doesn't want to answer.
"Newcastle Herald journalist, Donna Page began reporting in July years of dozens of derogatory letters to the editor ... nasty letters," Ms Hornery said.
"Page reported that Mr Scott Neylon, an Australian expat living in Japan, penned disparaging letters to the editor, often misspelling his own name and with several different addresses over the past six years.
"Any community member, or politician who questioned City of Newcastle, got admonished. I was the prime target. The letters, meanwhile, heaped praise upon City of Newcastle."
Mr Neylon has said via email that he wrote the letters and Mr Bath did not ask him to write letters. The 48-year-old has offered no explanation for why he purports to be everything from a father of a teenager, to a Hunter-based grandfather who spends his time at City of Newcastle pools, when in reality he lives in Japan and has no children.
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