Horan’s defence

December 6th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Sacked NZ First MP is defending his use of a parliamentary phone to ring a TAB bet line, saying it was personal use that was allowed.

But his former leader Winston Peters says that is “humbug” and such use was outside the rules.

Records seen by The Dominion Post show Mr Horan used his taxpayer-funded parliamentary mobile phone to call a TAB phonebet number 12 times in the space of about four hours on Saturday afternoon, April 28.

In the records, which covered a less than one month period, he called the bet line on nine other occasions.

Mr Horan said he was entitled to call who he wanted but did not deny the calls to the TAB.

He has strongly denied having a gambling problem, and has also rejected allegations he took money from his dying mother.

He said he did not have his phone records so had no way of confirming it. “Look up the rules; people can use their phones for anything.

“There is fringe benefit and people can use their phones for a certain amount of private business. Whatever I use my phone for is my private business.”

But Mr Peters yesterday said that was “humbug”.

“That’s not private business is it? If you’re ringing up your husband or your wife or your children, that’s understood to be legit, that’s private business. How could that be?”

The issue of Horan using his mobile phone is a red herring. You don’t sack an MP from your party because of some calls to the TAB from his mobile. Horan is correct that there is no restriction on what numbers MPs can call from their phones. It is interesting that Peters is releasing what is normally private information on Horan to discredit him.

Meanwhile, respected New Plymouth horse trainer John Wheeler yesterday said Mr Horan would ring him maybe five or six times a year, often to check on weather conditions when he was planning to dive for crayfish, and would ask about how certain horses were going.

“He did not strike me as a guy with a [gambling] problem.”

He had never seen Mr Horan put a bet on and from their conversation had struck him as “a $5 each way kind of bloke”.

He had not seemed obsessed, though he knew his horses well.

“Either he had a good memory or he did a lot of study.”

He did not think ringing the betting line 12 times in one day was out of the ordinary.

Wheeler would himself place small bets and may call six times on one day.

For my 2c, I think 12 calls in four hours does indicate a potential gambling problem. But that is not even the issue. The issue is whether he took money from his mother’s bank account without permission to gamble with.

On 3 News last night Patrick Gower said Horan “doesn’t deny ringing the TAB or putting a few bets on with his mother“.

So I think what we have is that bank records will show Horan took money from his mother’s account and gambled it at the TAB. However his defence will be that they were bets either on behalf of his mother or joint bets with his mother.

I don’t see that there is an easy way to prove or disprove whether or not his mother authorised the bets, but here’s what Id be looking for.

  • Did she have a history of gambling at the TAB herself?
  • When there were winnings from a race, who got them – just Horan or did some go back to his mum?
  • Do phone records show frequent calls between Horan and his mum, which might indicate they were discussing bets?

If Horan can show some history of his mum being an active gambler herself, then his defence may have credibility. However I would still make the point that if, as indicated, her wealth dropped by almost $100,000 over a couple of years – it is not exactly a good look to have enabled this.

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33 Responses to “Horan’s defence”

  1. metcalph (1,367 comments) says:

    Brendan’s mother did win a million quid at lotto which is fairly indicative of being an active gambler.

    [DPF: Heh, fair point but the proportion of people who buy occasional lotto tickets is prob 50% and the proportion who bet regularly at the TAB is probably 1% or so]

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  2. david (2,194 comments) says:

    “The issue is whether he took money from his mother’s bank account without permission to gamble with.” Cobblers. Put the full stop after the word “account” and you might be closer. What he might have spent it on (or not spent it on for that matter) is irrelevant unless he spent it on his mother’s welfare or furthering her wishes. The gambling matter is a moral judgement whereas the taking of money is a legal matter – don’t confuse the two.

    [DPF: The key is the permission. Some elderly people do authorise family members to buy things for them]

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  3. Sofia (858 comments) says:

    None of this, at this point, explains why Winston went so spontaneously ballistic after buggering around with the issue, reputedly for more than a month.
    Unless he knew someone else was about to jump the gun.

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  4. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    When my grandmother was alive I often placed bets on her behalf.

    In this case, Horan’s mother died in August. He wouldn’t have been placing bets on her behalf after her death. :) The issue will be what has happened to his mother’s bank account since her death. What happened while she was alive is debatable, what’s happened after won’t be.

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  5. BeaB (2,164 comments) says:

    It will keep the media happy. They love a small easy-to-understand scandal and the Government can get on with more important matters.

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  6. speters (108 comments) says:

    “For my 2c, I think 12 calls in four hours does indicate a potential gambling problem.”

    I’d hesitate to say that indicates a potential gambling problem on its own. Horse races run around every five minutes at the TAB and a lot of horse punters will bet on every race or every second race for a couple of hours – but might only do that once a week. If he is placing bets via the phonebet system then three bets an hour for four hours is really not exceptional at all. It indicates for a few hours he was placing a bet on every fourth race or so.

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  7. BeaB (2,164 comments) says:

    If an accusation of stealing from your mother is a sacking offence, what about proven stealing of $158,000 from the people of NZ?
    Winston still has many questions to answer but the media are so entranced with him they have let his past wrongs drop off the radar.

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  8. Chuck Bird (4,906 comments) says:

    The taking of the money may be a legal matter but it might also be just a moral matter but one that is important if one holds a certain type of job and an MP would be one.

    A man of 51 generally should not be getting money from his elderly parents. Someone running for politics should know that things like this will come out and the public may rightfully judge them on issues like this.

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  9. George Patton (352 comments) says:

    If it is true that his defense is he helped his mother gamble on the horses significantly (rather than taking money without permission), then he should resign as an MP anyway.

    How could he possibly have what it takes to help people as an MP with immigration or tax problems when he is unable to tell his own mother “Mum, stop betting on the horses, you are losing all your money and I am pained to see you lose the lotto winnings that can see you enjoy your life in your golden years”.

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  10. Lipo (230 comments) says:

    The the standard how now been set of Winnie

    When will all the phone records of all MP’s be made public so we can see who has made private calls and which ones were business related

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  11. RightNow (7,015 comments) says:

    I can’t help but think this case has been another rush to judgement, this time on Winston’s part. I think he’s been played.

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  12. lastmanstanding (1,310 comments) says:

    Of course the most amusing thing here is that if Horan was employed in the private sector he couldnt have been fired by his boss. Instead under the current employment laws his boss would have been required to offer him counselling for his gambling problem and as for the the other allegations the Employment Court would have ordered his immediate reinstatement with compensation for hurt and humility probably running to high five figure plus his legal costs.
    Oh and the Court would have torn strips off his employer (Luigi) for failing in following the required process under the employment laws.

    So here we have Luigi who was in Parliament when the current employment laws were passed totally and completly breaching these. What a great example our employees in the Big House set.

    And it aint the first time our employees have been guilty of breaching the laws they require us to adhere to.

    2 faced arsehole morons all of them.

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  13. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (743 comments) says:

    “For my 2c, I think 12 calls in four hours does indicate a potential gambling problem.”
    On a Saturday? are you serious?
    In NZ there are normally two meetings on a Saturday. Between them they would have 12 races within a 4 hour period.
    Then sometimes there are 3 meetings. throw in the Aussie meetings……

    its kind of like saying someone who consumes 6 beers on a Saturday has a drinking problem

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  14. RightNow (7,015 comments) says:

    “someone who consumes 6 beers on a Saturday has a drinking problem” – they ran out too soon?

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  15. RF (1,490 comments) says:

    SSASTTL.. 12.25pm

    I agree. My TAB phone account will not be used for ages and then if there are a number meetings on a particular Saturday I would make about a dozen bets in a 5 hour period.

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  16. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,704 comments) says:

    “its kind of like saying someone who consumes 6 beers on a Saturday has a drinking problem”

    He does. He needs more.

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  17. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (743 comments) says:

    haha RightNow
    exactly!
    I used 6 because its comparable in my opinion

    RF
    I do multis
    so even though I place them on at the same time, technically I place many, many bets throughout the day automatically
    unless my early picks are woeful :-)

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  18. CHFR (241 comments) says:

    “For my 2c, I think 12 calls in four hours does indicate a potential gambling problem.”

    David you obviously don’t know anyone with an interest in horse racing. April 28 was a Saturday (as others have pointed out) so 12 calls in 4 hours would be about right for someone following 3-4 meetings. Prior to embracing the TAB internet site he would make more calls than this in a 4 hour period. He does not have an gambling problem and only bets on a Saturday.

    There may be more to come out on this and for once Winston’s radar could be very defective…or not.

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  19. Reid (16,702 comments) says:

    For my 2c, I think 12 calls in four hours does indicate a potential gambling problem. But that is not even the issue

    I think we’ve established Horan wasn’t excessive there, as one caller on Sean Plunket’s ZB show said just before 12:00. This was a guy who has “punted not gambled” (his words) for 20 years. He also said he’d heard (where from he didn’t say) Horan used a special line, that he wouldn’t be able to access because he didn’t gamble enough.

    To me it comes down to the pattern. I don’t see any choice but for Horan to publish the relevant transactions and dates. Peters won’t do it he can’t it has to be Horan.

    But Horan’s counsel said that Horan doesn’t know what Peters has seen whereas Peters said Horan knew because he (Horan) has copies. Horan needs some serious PR advice PDQ, I hope he gets it because I’d love to see him win and make Peters look like an idiot.

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  20. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > he is unable to tell his own mother “Mum, stop betting on the horses”

    Goodness gracious, do you like controlling others? The woman was elderly and died weeks after the bets were made…how dare she enjoy the final weeks of her life! Presumably you think old people shouldn’t have sex. :)

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  21. Elaycee (4,425 comments) says:

    If it is true that his defense is he helped his mother gamble on the horses significantly (rather than taking money without permission), then he should resign as an MP anyway.

    What total bollocks!

    When my parents were alive, I encouraged them to spend up and enjoy their savings whilst they were active etc. But, typical of their generation, they thought it was the ‘right thing’ to squirrel away money ‘for the kids’ or ‘for a rainy day’ etc. It took a fair amount of persuasion, but they ended up travelling a fair bit and I am grateful they were able to spend their money on themselves. And if my Mum or Dad had ever suggested to me that they wanted a flutter, I would have gladly placed the bet on for them – after all, it was their money.

    So to criticise Horan / suggest he should resign if he had done exactly that, is bollocks.

    I don’t know what really happened, but if it turns out that Horan placed bets at his Mum’s request, then good on him. But if it turns out that he stole her money for his own purposes, then he’d better buckle up because he hasn’t heard the last if it…

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  22. Raphael (88 comments) says:

    “her wealth dropped by almost $100,000 over a couple of years”

    A fair number of BIG lotto winners have blown most of their winnings within a few years. So a drop of $100,000 over a couple of years by itself doesn’t indicate much.

    “Percent of lottery winners who had spent their entire winnings within 5 years: 44 %”
    http://www.statisticbrain.com/lottery-winner-statistics/

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  23. david (2,194 comments) says:

    The funniest part of this sad saga is that Winnie is effectively saying that supporting the racing industry is heinous, immoral (amoral?) and worthy of being sacked for. I’ll just bet that his financial backers (Vela Bros et al) are just peachy with that message.

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  24. Martin Gibson (248 comments) says:

    My thoughts also Ross69 [edit: and Elaycee] — I hope she still had enough money for some really good cognac, and cigars also if she felt so-moved.

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  25. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Winston was Minister for Racing from 2005-2008.

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  26. Rex Widerstrom (5,013 comments) says:

    Lipo asks:

    When will all the phone records of all MP’s be made public so we can see who has made private calls and which ones were business related

    Yes I’m amazed Winston of all people wants to start a fight about the correct use of Parliamentary resources. Or – as david notes above – the topic of money flowing to (or from) the racing industry in less than transparent circumstances.

    Given that in the past he backed Michael Laws to the hilt when the questions were about the receipt and alleged misuse of public money, and even when proved retained him as a staffer and key advisor, then I suspect Sofia is right – he acted against Horan only because he knew someone else was about to expose the truth.

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  27. Bevan (3,232 comments) says:

    For my 2c, I think 12 calls in four hours does indicate a potential gambling problem.

    The amount of calls does not indicate a problem – the amount gambled would.

    We don’t know the reason for each call, or what resulted form the call so how can we judge? Maybe a few of those times he was ringing for a balance.

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  28. hmmokrightitis (1,596 comments) says:

    Wonder how long it is before someone – who knows, maybe Whale – OIA’s certain MP’s phone records…

    Or maybe its been done already…

    :)

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  29. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,704 comments) says:

    If Horan did indeed pinch a few bob from his mother’s account, which I very much doubt, his biggest mistake was failing to use some of it to make a flamboyant donation to the Winston First Party. Had he done so, Peters would have elevated him to sainthood.

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  30. BlairM (2,340 comments) says:

    This whole affair is utterly ridiculous. So far this seems to be a civil, not a criminal matter. That is awkward for any MP or public figure, but it’s certainly not a sackable offence. It’s ridiculous that he is being vilified and cast aside on this matter. Unless the police are involved, it seems obvious that he should remain an MP.

    I don’t give a fuck what any MP does with family money – that’s their business. I care about whether they vote billions of dollars towards stupid crap, and most of them do that every sitting day of Parliament.

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  31. hmmokrightitis (1,596 comments) says:

    I also like the delicious irony…

    Winston, sacking an MP, for bringing parliament in to disrepute. You couldn’t make this shit up.

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  32. Bevan (3,232 comments) says:

    Goodness gracious, do you like controlling others? The woman was elderly and died weeks after the bets were made…how dare she enjoy the final weeks of her life! Presumably you think old people shouldn’t have sex.

    Who are you? And what have you done with the real ross69?

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  33. Viking2 (11,678 comments) says:

    Horan spent a long time between being a useless weather flunky and getting elected to a salary. Don’t recall at anytime that he was employed but he was never shy of being out there. Money must have flowed from some plac e.

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