Winston Peters announced today to the House:
In recent weeks, a number of allegations had been made against Mr Horan, most of which arise from a family matter. The allegations are of a nature that requires that they should be treated seriously. Accordingly, I requested from the original complainant and those associated with him evidence to support their allegations. I also instructed Mr Horan to give every priority to resolving this family matter, so that I could be assured that those allegations were without foundation. Until a few days ago, we had not been furnished with any evidentiary material from any of the parties in this dispute. However, substantive material has now come into my possession, some as recent as 2.15 p.m. this afternoon. The information we have received leaves me in a position where I have no confidence in Mr Horan’s ability to continue as a member of Parliament, and he will be expelled from the New Zealand First caucus forthwith. Mr Horan has a duty, I believe, to resign as a member of Parliament. Lastly, this is a bitterly regrettable situation, but we had to place our decision on the public record as soon as we were in a position to make it.
It is good to see Winston holding his MPs to a higher standard than he held himself to. I understand that when the allegations were put to Horan, he simply sat in a room and held up a no sign to Winstons’s questions
Okay, being more serious I do give credit to Winston for his handling of this. As ACT did with Donna Awatere-Huata, he investigated serious allegations and as no satisfactory answers could be given, moved to expel the MP from the party.
It stands in stark contrast to the shameful behaviour of Labour over Taito Philip Field, where they not only refused to take action, but actively defended him.
Of course Winston did hand pick Horan to be his successor in Tauranga, and the episode overall is not positive for NZ First. And Peters did know about the allegations for a couple of months, before acting on them. However again overall I say Peters has handled this issue pretty well.
Credit also goes to Tony Wall and the Sunday Star-Times who broke the story. On the basis of what was published I thought the story was premature and should have waited for the forensic accounant report . But they obviously had confidence that the allegations were substantive, and it appears they are at least substantive enough for Peters to expel Horan. They made the call, and got it right.
On the basis of what has been reported, the behaviour is allegedly criminal. Hence why Peters spoke under parliamentary privilege. And in terms of the law Horan is innocent until proven guilty. But the fact he has been unable to provide evidence to convince Peters does suggest he has real problems in the future.
Horan is now an Independent List MP. Unless he is charged and convicted of an offence that has a maximum penalty of over two years jail, he will remain an MP until he resigns. He says he is staying for now, but I suspect he will find Parliament a very lonely and unfriendly place if he does.
Of course if he can clear his name, and prove he has done nothing wrong, then he may have a future. But for NZ First to expel him suggests they are convinced of serious wrong doing.