The Horan dispute

November 26th, 2012 at 9:03 am by David Farrar

The front page lead for the Sunday Star-Times yesterday was:

Forensic accountants are investigating the estate of New Zealand First MP ’s mother, amid allegations that large sums of money were misappropriated from her bank accounts over several years.

I read the full story, and couldn’t see the public interest in it – let alone making it a front page.

It is a sad reality that families have disputes over estates.

A source familiar with the accounts said: “There is a lot of strange activity going on, a lot of TAB withdrawals.”

The implication is that Horan may be responsible – but as far as I can see there is no proof of this – and it would be fairly easy to track down who was gambling at a TAB at the time of withdrawals etc.

In today’s Stuff it is further reported:

NZ First MP and former weatherman Brendan Horan is welcoming forensic accountants investigating the estate of his mother, saying he wants to clear up allegations large sums were misappropriated from her bank account.

The Tauranga-based list MP said the matter was a family dispute and he was “disgusted” it had been dragged before the public. …

There have also been allegations of many TAB withdrawals.

It is understood the allegations have come from Mr Horan’s brother, Mark Ormsby, also known as Mana and Te Karera, who is a long-term sickness beneficiary.

I think it is regrettable that the allegations were given oxygen and prominence without any proof of any wrong-doing by Horan. If there is going to be an examination by an accountant, then why not wait for the results of that before running a front page article insinuating wrong-doing?

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36 Responses to “The Horan dispute”

  1. Longknives (4,690 comments) says:

    “There have also been allegations of many TAB withdrawals.”

    Obviously something dodgy going on here! I am a keen punter- and make plenty of deposits into my TAB account….not too many withdrawals!

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  2. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    why not wait for the results of that before running a front page article insinuating wrong-doing?

    That wouldn’t sell papers and wreck people’s careers.
    It also wouldn’t be in the best interests of the left.

    And the SST wonder why people don’t buy it.

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  3. slightlyrighty (2,471 comments) says:

    Gossip is more entertaining than actual,factual news. That is why this story has been given the oxygen it does not deserve. The standards of journalism in this country is pathetic.

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  4. Chuck Bird (4,847 comments) says:

    I find it interesting that Winston will not support Horan. It appears that Horan it not putting his side of the story to Winston. It is also interest that Horan refused to answer the question if he was a compulsive gambler.

    [DPF: And I am not saying the allegations are wrong. I'm saying that the story is premature until there is some proof]

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  5. Pongo (371 comments) says:

    Unsubstantiated accusation at NZfirst instead of from them. I am shocked.

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  6. ChardonnayGuy (1,199 comments) says:

    I would like to differ with you on this issue, David. There are questions about whether or not this is purely a matter of readily explicable financial transaction disputes, which would therefore entitle the quarrelling beneficiaries or otherwise to some modicum of privacy, or whether there are graver, public interest implications to this matter. Until proven otherwise, Mr Horan is innocent of what remain allegations until proven otherwise, and any premature statements to the contrary risk defamation trials if the ultimate result of the current police investigation turns out to clear the NZF MP under scrutiny.

    As the Taitogate and Worthgate scandals showed, errant MP financial transactions clearly are subjects of public interest and should be scrutinised.

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  7. Elaycee (4,372 comments) says:

    So let me get this straight:

    A Member of Parliament (representing New Zealand First) has been accused of using someone else’s money for their own purposes.

    Gee…. :D

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  8. Chuck Bird (4,847 comments) says:

    Even if no law has been broken issues involving an MP may be of public interest. Parliament is the highest Court in the land and I think we have a right to expect a higher standard of behavior than just not breaking the law. Just look how any comment of an MP that may be construed as racist, sexist, anti homosexual is reported.

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  9. ChardonnayGuy (1,199 comments) says:

    Allegedly, Elaycee. We won’t know for sure until police have completed their investigations and seen if there is a case to answer. There may or may not be. Why does it sound like Brendan Horan has just turned into the political equivalent of that venerable quantum physicist’s thought experiment Schrodingers Cat (in which a mog in a box is both potentially alive or dead pending the decay of a subatomic particle and gun. More animal rights-inclined versions now come equipped with an animal rights activist who rescues the hypothetical feline from her or his fate, or so I hear…) :)

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  10. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    While I’m inclined to agree with Pongo, Chardonnay, LAC, Chuck comments above…

    If unsubstantiated mud thrown at a named public figure by a disgruntled sickness beneficiary is newsworthy – before the forensic accountant or ANYONE sensible has even had a chance to investigate the substance or otherwise of the allegations – then you’re effectively saying that any allegations against anyone by Phil Ure or Penny Bright deserve to be front page news, and I’m not sure I agree with that…?

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  11. Pete George (23,474 comments) says:

    Unsubstantiated accusation at NZfirst instead of from them. I am shocked.

    Yep, I’m shocked just as much.

    But just because Winston is a compulsive (often flakey) accuser it doesn’t excuse what seems to be a premature publication of this accusation.

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  12. bhudson (4,738 comments) says:

    IIRC, Whaleoil had Horan’s photo up a couple of weeks or so ago, along with a few others, as someone who should be interested in what was in the Truth. I wonder if that was related to this innuendo story.

    If so, it is notable that the Truth didn’t run with the story – hardly a paper to let a good scandal go by. Perhaps they shied away due to a lack of substantiated evidence? Not something that would seem to trouble the editor of SST it would seem, on the face of it…

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  13. ChardonnayGuy (1,199 comments) says:

    Still, Pete, it is a matter of public interest. Of course, it may be wholly innocent. Or it may not be. Hence my Schrodingers Cat reference above.

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  14. ChardonnayGuy (1,199 comments) says:

    Hmmm, possibly because Cam had Truth’s lawyers go over it and decided that there was insufficient evidence at that point and there was also a pressing deadline to meet?

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  15. wat dabney (3,724 comments) says:

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  16. Key is our man (876 comments) says:

    Sorry DF – I don’t share your sympathy and intention for good justice even for a single moment. What goes around comes around. Winnie built his career around throwing mud at others and it is high time he and his party suffers. While I sympathise with Brendan, who seems like a good guy, his party deserves this negative publicity.

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  17. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Key is our man –

    The only problem with that way of thinking, is that “Well if Winston Peters can do it, I can too!” is just such a low standard of conduct for everyone else to set for themselves…

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  18. Pete George (23,474 comments) says:

    Winnie built his career around throwing mud at others and it is high time he and his party suffers….his party deserves this negative publicity.

    This is very poor justification for publicising something prematurely. Because some people think they deserve it is not a good reason for unsubstantiated accusations.

    The ‘because they deserve it’ excuse is a major contributor to perpetuating pissy politics. We shouldn’t accept even more mud wrestling. We deserve better, from all parties and papers.

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  19. Scott Chris (6,058 comments) says:

    I think it is regrettable that the allegations were given oxygen and prominence without any proof of any wrong-doing by Horan.

    Well said.

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  20. Pete George (23,474 comments) says:

    This is a symptom of our times, where it’s more common for people to race to the media with their stories of discontent as a means of coercion in a process rather than as a last resort.

    And some of the media not only oblige, they actively seek the sensational and the aggrieved.

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  21. wreck1080 (3,881 comments) says:

    everyone loves gossip i guess.

    Except for kiwiblog readers?

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  22. Elaycee (4,372 comments) says:

    Chardonnay Guy:

    Allegedly, Elaycee. We won’t know for sure until police have completed their investigations and seen if there is a case to answer. There may or may not be.

    Er, did you miss the part in my 9.42am that said: …has been accused… ? No presumption of guilt. Nor of innocence. Just stating the facts… Horan has been accused…

    Sheesh…

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  23. Manolo (13,571 comments) says:

    Blame it on money, the source of all evil.

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  24. Reid (16,290 comments) says:

    While all families have disputes, you have to a be a special type of person to rip off your own siblings, don’t you.

    Hard to understand how it wouldn’t be true, quite frankly. The SST report said the mother added a codicil to her will specifying he had to pay it back and why would she do that if it wasn’t missing? And if it was missing it’s possible he didn’t take it but if he didn’t, then who did. And normally families have a fairly accurate idea of who does what, in this sort of thing, don’t they.

    It’s a shame the police have had to become involved, it should have been settled internally. But perhaps that was tried and nothing happened. And if he has an MP’s salary then you’d think he could have started repayments.

    So if it is true and yes that’s still an if, but if it is true then clearly the man isn’t fit to be an MP and his employment prospects elsewhere won’t be exactly blue sky for the foreseeable future. Which won’t do the repayment schedule any good. I remember him when he first started doing weather on TV3 I think it was. He was hopeless. Possibly the worst weather guy ever. It was worth tuning in just to watch it, like a disaster movie every night at 6:55. I always suspected he was employed to fill a quota, he was so obviously unfit in the early days.

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  25. hmmokrightitis (1,586 comments) says:

    Reid, Horan was in my swim squad years ago. He was a much better swimmer than a weather man :)

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  26. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    Reid: No, I think you are thinking of one Robin Kora…so bad people watched the weather report just to guffaw with laughter.

    But on topic …does anyone here seriously expect the media in this country to demonstrate ethics ?

    Bingo! I learned a new skill…always good at my age…

    That said, Winnie has plenty of form here…in both senses…

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  27. Elaycee (4,372 comments) says:

    @David Garrett:

    Robin Kora…. Heh… he wasn’t the best when reading TVNZ’s Eyewitness News from the autocue… Guffaws aplenty, for sure.

    But the poor bugger died of cancer back in 2007… he couldn’t have been that old either. :(

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10466572

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  28. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    “I think it is regrettable that the allegations were given oxygen and prominence without any proof of any wrong-doing by Horan.”

    Similar to the allegations about the DomPost hassling Greg King just before he apparently killed himself. More allegations without proof, though you were happy to run with them.

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  29. Nookin (3,281 comments) says:

    “Similar to the allegations about the DomPost hassling Greg King just before he apparently killed himself. More allegations without proof, though you were happy to run with them.”

    The two bear no resemblance to each other.

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  30. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > The two bear no resemblance to each other

    Yeah you might be right. There seems to be more to the Horan story than the other one.

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  31. gump (1,634 comments) says:

    @Manolo

    Money isn’t evil.

    It’s the *love* of money that leads people towards evil.

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  32. Rex Widerstrom (5,349 comments) says:

    Elaycee says:

    …has been accused… ? No presumption of guilt. Nor of innocence. Just stating the facts…

    Which would be just fine if the same media who carried the facts of the accusation were committed to carry news of the dropping of any investigation, the retraction of false allegations or the acquittal of the accused with the same prominence as they run the allegation.

    And would be fine if many people didn’t persist with the dogged belief that “where there’s smoke there’s fire” even when a person is subject not only to a thorough investigation but an active effort to prove their guilt by police and/or prosecution.

    In a perfect world the publicising of an allegation would be seen coldly an analytically as exactly that – essentially an unproven statement providing no basis on which to make a decision without knowing the facts. And there’d therefore be no harm in splattering it over the front page.

    But the world is far from perfect, so if the media want to run these unproven allegation stories they surely have a moral duty – which they consistently fail to honour – to afford equal coverage to the eventual outcome, whatever that may be. What’s the bet that, if it’s found there’s nothing in this story, the SST do?

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  33. Dazzaman (1,138 comments) says:

    I know a lot of long term sickness beneficiaries in the TAB…..just saying.

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  34. Nick K (1,228 comments) says:

    There is excellent proof of wrongdoing here, and it is all in the facts as presented if DPF or Winston wanted to look.

    Fact 1: Mother’s Codicil passes probate in the High Court.
    Fact 2: Medical certificate of two doctors stating she was of sound mind when she made the Codicil.
    Fact 3: Said Codicil states: “”recover money by any lawful means” from Horan, “which has either been loaned . . . by me, or taken from me”. It also states that if the funds have not been recouped by the time of her death, then Horan’s share of the estate “will be adjusted to take in account of any such funds received . . . over the last 10 years”.
    Fact 4: The executor of the will was told by the mother that she “was concerned that money was missing from her accounts, but had asked that the legal action not be taken until after her death.” That’s not usually classified as hearsay simply because she is now dead.

    As I said, plenty of facts for Winston to act on. And very good ones at that.

    But I agree with DPF, front page? Pretty sad.

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  35. hj (6,915 comments) says:

    Winston will sack Horan if he is guilty. My guess is that he is and that is why DPF is being so fair (now): he has NZ First in the cross hairs.
    National is opposed to NZ First because it is thick as thieves with this part of the NZ economy:

    http://queencitylaw.rtrk.com.au/?scid=161768&kw=6236901&pub_cr_id=16956781644
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10850092

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  36. Chuck Bird (4,847 comments) says:

    I just heard on the news that Winston is not very happy. He has known about the allegations for a couple of months and Horan has not been forthcoming with info. There are a lot of doggy things done my people in regard elderly parents particularly terminally ill parents. While some of these things may not be illegal many people would find them unethical. An MP should not own his elderly mother anything.

    Winston usually backs his MPs more than this so it does not look good for Horan.

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