Will NZ First break their own rules?

The NZ Herald reported:

Independent MP ’s last links with New Zealand First – the party which took him into Parliament – are likely to be severed following a board meeting on Monday evening.

The NZ First party rules clearly state that a member can be expelled only after a hearing, and that Horan must be sent by registered mail notice of the hearing and details of the nature of the complaint, the date, time and place of the hearing. Has this been done?

NZ First president Kevin Gardener yesterday confirmed Mr Horan’s membership was on the agenda for the board’s Monday meeting where Leader Winston Peters was expected to give his reasons for expelling him from the NZ First Caucus this week.

Mr Peters yesterday said he was relaxed that his decision to expel Mr Horan following allegations the MP had taken money from his dying mother’s bank accounts was the right one.

Mr Gardener said he had confidence in Mr Peters’ judgement, “and all the board will”.

Good God – not a big believer in natural justice or hearing both sides are they? This confirms that the party is a personality cult rather than a democratic organisation.

On the basis of what is known, I actually think Peters was right to take action against Horan. But the way they have taken action has been appalling in terms of process. They need to write to him and put the complaints to him, and have a hearing where he can put a defence. I also suspect (based on the precedent Peters himself created with National in the 1990s) that any board member (such as the President) who has pre-judged the matter can’t be part of the hearing. If they do not follow their own rules, they can face judicial review.

Tony Wall in the SST reports:

 MP Brendan Horan offered to pay $25,000 to his mother’s estate after he was accused of taking money from her bank accounts, but the deal collapsed, the Sunday Star-Times has learnt. …

Sources close to the family say they offered to settle the dispute by allowing Horan to take a $40,000 reduction in his share of his mother’s estate. …

The Star-Times yesterday saw a spreadsheet of 28 questionable cheques, totalling $180,000, going back to 2000. The largest, in February 2007, was for $50,000, and there were others for $35,000, $10,000, and several for around $5000. Investigators are still looking into who they were made out to.

If this is correct, I think its is fast becoming a criminal matter. I’m not saying any crimes have been committed. I’m saying that allegations of $180,000 of presumably unauthorised cheques are extremely serious.

If NZ First follow the process laid down in their rules, they can make a decision to expel Horan (if justified) before Christmas. Once there has been a process which has some natural justice attached to it, then he should resign from Parliament having lost the support of his party.

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