Agent in five-year fight to clear name says false claims against him ‘pathetic’

A retired real estate agent fighting to clear his name after another agent said she feared he could poison her or blow up her car has won the latest round in a protracted legal battle to salvage his professional reputation.

But Gary Stone, a former police officer, is laughing off the woman’s fears that he is aligned with the Chinese Communist Party and could “send someone to kill me” in an assassination like that of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“It’s a bit of a hoot. Now I’m a bloody hit man. If it wasn’t so pathetic it would be funny.”

Stone has been embroiled in five years of bizarre legal proceedings after Mt Roskill agent Susan Lim made a swath of allegations against him, including sexual assault and false imprisonment.

Stone, who is also a justice of the peace, says the allegations are “ludicrous”. He accuses Lim of making a vindictive, malicious and fabricated complaint designed to destroy his career.

Her 2015 complaint was dismissed by the Real Estate Authority (REA). Stone laid his own complaint against Lim the following year.

He has been trying to convince the watchdog to charge Lim with misconduct so the matter can go to a full hearing where he can clear his name and “establish credibility”. However the Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC) has repeatedly refused.

Stone has twice appealed against the CAC decision to the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal (READT) and, representing himself, successfully taken on the authority’s highly paid lawyers from Meredith Connell.

The latest tribunal decision, released last month, has criticised the CAC for making several errors and referred the matter back to the authority to review whether Lim should face misconduct proceedings in connection with her claims about Stone.

It ruled the CAC had considered the wrong factors when reaching its conclusion, including that it was “hard to prove” sexual abuse allegations.

The tribunal dismissed the CAC’s view that charging an agent over a false complaint could create a “not unjustified perception in the industry that they should be sure before alleging misconduct and come armed with conclusive proof, lest they face charges themselves”.

It also criticised the CAC for assuming it was unlikely that anyone would make up a “baseless” sexual abuse complaint.

But Lim is now appealing the tribunal decision and seeking $100,000 in compensation for physical and emotional stress.

In a rambling affidavit punctuated by numerous exclamation marks, she makes various new claims, including that she did not attend the READT hearing “because I was very scared that Gary Stone and CCP (Chinese Communist Party) can send someone to kill me at the court same as the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi!”

In Lim’s original complaint, the Royalty Realty agent alleged Stone had been “sexually abusing her and demanding cash” when she was a student and he was a manager at Tafe College in Auckland in 2008.

A statement to REA investigators in December 2018 made further allegations.

“I was very scared that Gary Stone can lay some poison or bomb to my car or door handle to kill me (sic),” she wrote.

The CAC ruled there was “no direct or written evidence” to support claims Lim had fabricated her complaint.

“She has identified times and places, and the substance of what was said. The complaint is, on its face, not completely fanciful, cannot be dismissed as inherently implausible.

Stone told the Herald the claims against him were ridiculous and getting worse.

“It’s quite obvious to me she’s got issues. My beef is not with Susan Lim, it’s with the REA and CAC. It was never investigated property from the beginning.”

Stone said there had been a deliberate attempt by Lim to discredit him.

But his former boss had stood by him and those who knew him knew the claims were “a load of hogwash”.

Stone believed the REA should have looked more closely at Lim’s conduct and he felt it was the agency’s job to protect licensees “from people like her”.

“Emotionally it’s just been frustrating to see the lack of action on the part of the REA.”

An REA spokeswoman said “in the interest of fairness to the process and all parties involved we are not in a position to comment at this time”.

Lim could not be reached for comment.

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