Trevett on Sir Douglas

June 7th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

at NZ Herald writes:

When Prime Minister John Key was asked about the Tuhoe settlement this week, he referred first to Sir Douglas and his critical role in the Treaty settlement process in the 1990s. In the very next question, he had to answer questions about whether Sir Douglas should lose the knighthood he earned for that work as a result of his conviction as a director of the failed Lombard Finance.

His answer to the first question was an indication of how reluctant Key must be to take that step. There are many things to take into account. Although Sir Douglas and his co-directors were convicted for failing to disclose relevant information in Lombard’s statements, the court emphasised that there was no apparent deliberate dishonesty or attempt to profit from it. Thanks to subsequent law changes, now the same issue would be dealt with as a civil case.

I wasn’t aware of that.

Stripping honours for reasons other than traditional crimes, such as sexual offences or murder, or the sanction by a professional body is a relatively new phenomenon sparked by the global financial crisis. The United Kingdom is now going through the process of exacting revenge on those who contributed to that crisis. Bank of Scotland head Fred Goodwin was the first to be stripped of his knighthood. Last month, James Crosby, former head of HBOS, asked for his knighthood to be removed. The Forfeiture Committee is scanning through others to decide whether to take similar action. But even those at the heart of the banking crisis are only having their honours stripped if the honour was relevant to their banking work.

A key point.

Sir Douglas’ knighthood was for his work as a minister of the Crown, most notably on Treaty settlements. His knighthood was for the work he did for New Zealand as a whole. It was as much an acknowledgment of the iwi he worked with as himself. It was Sir Douglas’ careful handling of those initial settlements that gave other iwi the trust to start along the road themselves, a legacy from which Chris Finlayson is now reaping the benefits.

Because it was handled well from the beginning, the settlement process is now one of the most important developments in New Zealand’s growth as a nation.

The risk is that the still-raw anger over the collapse of finance companies will prompt Key, or Sir Douglas himself, into making a decision on political grounds.

On balance, the good Sir Douglas did for New Zealand and its people by far outweighs the wrong he did to those investors.

And he is paying the price for those wrongs – a criminal conviction, and a sentence of home detention and community work.

The trouble is that the wrongdoing and images of Sir Douglas standing in the dock are fresher in people’s minds. The good, and the image of Maori packing out the public gallery and singing a waiata in tribute to Sir Douglas’ work at his valedictory, has become hazy through the passage of time. Tuhoe was a timely reminder of that good.

Sir Douglas managed to resist caving in on politically unpopular issues in favour of doing what was right when he was Treaty Minister. Key should now do him the favour of doing the same.

A hard decision for the PM.

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27 Responses to “Trevett on Sir Douglas”

  1. iMP (2,385 comments) says:

    It becomes a case of double jeopardy. Douglas gets punished and loses his title, while others do not. Having the title actually accentuates his humiliation which is not same for, say, Jefferies.

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  2. Nigel Kearney (1,013 comments) says:

    There was no intentional wrongdoing of any kind. For some reason, Parliament decided to make these offences strict liability. And the companies and securities legislation is long and complicated. If you forget to dot an ‘i’ or cross a ‘t’, you’re a criminal. Even if a director correctly asks management for information and acts on it, they can still be committing a crime if the information turns out to be incorrect.

    This would not be a hard decision for a Prime Minister who acts based on principle. But probably Key is right now trying to decide whether there are more votes to be had by stripping Graham’s knighthood or letting him keep it.

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  3. Bob R (1,375 comments) says:

    ***Douglas gets punished and loses his title, while others do not. Having the title actually accentuates his humiliation which is not same for, say, Jefferies.***

    @ iMP

    Yeah, but Jefferies never had the honour of being a Knight of the Realm. The corrollory of having titles bestowed on you is you have more to live up to & more to lose.

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  4. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    iMP (1,371) Says:
    June 7th, 2013 at 3:07 pm
    ————————–

    I agree. It would not be fair to make one person pay more than the others, just because he had shown himself to be a worthwhile and hard working member of society prior to the Lombard collapse.

    The court found that all the directors had acted honestly, there was no intent to mislead, and there was no breach of any trust. It was also noted they acted diligently. Sir Doug was also a victim of the crash, losing a great deal of his own, and his family’s money. For the last six years he has paid enormous legal fees, and the stress of this has played heavily on his health and well-being, I doubt he will go to the Supreme Court not just because of the personal cost to himself, but also his family.

    He is a man with tremendous integrity and there is nothing they could do to him that would be harder than he has been on himself. He has spent a great deal of time reflecting on what happened, and questioning if there was anything else he could have done. Of course in hindsight there was, but at the time he believed he was acting in the best interests of his investors, and even the Courts agreed with that, but …. the starting point for his sentence is two and a half years imprisonment. The law is being changed and a sentence of imprisonment will no longer apply to other such cases. Before the appeal, his sentence was 300 hours community service, and $100,000 fine. Now that is likely to be quashed and instead he will receive a sentence of home detention – which will come at a cost to the tax payer.

    He is an old man – he is no threat to society – his fine would have assisted in repairing the damage, his community service given something back to the community – but now instead, those that seek retribution, perhaps to disguise their own stupidity, are demanding we the tax payer pay the $50,000 odd it takes to keep a person on home detention a year. Sheer stupidity.

    Still – the positive side is – staying home is something Doug has got quite used to of late, so it will not be too harsh on him.

    Sir Douglas Graham earned his title – he has done nothing to warrant removing it – to do so would be unfair and unjust. I trust John Key will make the decision that is right, and fair.

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  5. Bob R (1,375 comments) says:

    ***It would not be fair to make one person pay more than the others, just because he had shown himself to be a worthwhile and hard working member of society prior to the Lombard collapse. ***

    @ Judith,

    Putting aside whether Graham should keep the Knighthood or not, I think the argument you and iMP are making is badly flawed. Double jeapardy is being tried again for the same crime when you’ve already been found not guilty previously.

    What you’re talking about here is quite different. For example, on your reasoning it’s not fair that MP’s (or say lawyers) lose their professional role if convicted of certain offences. You’re overlooking that with these roles/titles there are certain ethical obligations and standards to uphold.

    Again, I’m not saying that Graham should lose his as I really don’t know enough about the case.

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  6. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    Graham should be treated no different to any other convicted criminal and if the ‘rules’ state he should lose his knighthood because of his convictions, then so be it.

    I am sick of panty waists trying to paint criminals in some favourable light instead of accepting the fact they’ve been convicted in a Court of Law. Actions have consequences. This is no different – Graham has been convicted / has had his appeal declined. He needs to accept he has a conviction and to accept the consequences. And any ‘relatives / acquaintances / supporters’ need to stop trying to paint him as something other than what he is: a convicted criminal.

    Get used to it.

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  7. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Bob R (1,082) Says:
    June 7th, 2013 at 3:49 pm
    —————————-

    I did not mention double jeopardy, because that does not apply in this case – at least not applied in law.

    However, there is a level of ‘fairness’ that should apply. There was not any dishonesty in this case, there was no malice and if tried today, there would be no criminal offence, and with that, no question of his title being removed.

    Wasn’t Jenny Shipley recently involved with a company that went belly up? I don’t see anyone suggesting she should pass her title back.

    If you could point to anything Doug did that was untoward, disgraceful, dishonest or demonstrated malice and uncaring towards other people, I would agree with him losing his title – in this case the law is an ass – and people like the poster who compares this to ‘normal’ criminal offending, are clearly hypocrites, because I doubt even they have lived the exemplary life Sir Doug Graham has.

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  8. Bob R (1,375 comments) says:

    @ Judith,

    Yes, as I said in my post I wasn’t saying that he should return his title (I don’t know enough about the case). I was saying the argument that someone shouldn’t pay more than others when they have a title is flawed.

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  9. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    and people like the poster who compares this to ‘normal’ criminal offending, are clearly hypocrites, because I doubt even they have lived the exemplary life Sir Doug Graham has.

    You are correct, Judith / Jinny / Ginny whatever you call yourself this week. I agree I am unlike Doug Graham.

    Because I actually have no convictions.

    Get over it.

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  10. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Elaycee (3,531) Says:
    June 7th, 2013 at 5:09 pm
    —————————————

    Not having convictions doesn’t mean you have led an exemplary life.

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  11. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    @Judith: Fair enough.

    And just because you may have played a pokie, doesn’t mean you’re suddenly an ‘expert’ on how they are programmed! :D

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  12. nasska (11,525 comments) says:

    ….” The good, and the image of Maori packing out the public gallery and singing a waiata in tribute to Sir Douglas’ work at his valedictory, has become hazy through the passage of time.”….

    To earn that waiata wasn’t tough….give me an open chequebook to sign away other peoples money & I’ll have no trouble getting the Tangata Whenua singing on high….they’d probably throw in a couple of poi dances & a highland fling too. When the real test of actually doing something, like checking out the facts about what he was selling the gullible greedies, the knighted one showed himself up for the empty vessel that he is.

    If he holds on to the title he devalues the honour for past, present & future recipients.

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  13. MT_Tinman (3,187 comments) says:

    Graham should lose his knighthood because of his work on treaty “settlements”.

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  14. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    The title is for Sir Douglas work as a treaty Minister. However it is clear investors parted with their money on the reputation of Sir Douglas and the knighthood is a no small part of that. It is the use of the knighthood in bolstering the reputation the ultimately resulted in a number of victims. On balance the knighthood should because the way it was used.

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  15. kowtow (8,487 comments) says:

    He should never have been granted any titles by the Crown in the first place.

    What Sovereign rewards his subject for giving away the Sovereigns’ wealth?

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  16. orewa1 (410 comments) says:

    “On balance the knighthood should because the way it was used.”

    Exactly. Mr Graham used his knighthood implicitly to add credibility to his status as a director. Betcha many investors consciously or otherwise, gave more weight to their perceived confidence in the company because its board included a high profile ex Cabinet Minister – a knight to boot.

    Therefore his role as Minister cannot be compartmentalized separately to the use he made of that title for his personal gain.

    Having said that, I tend to agree he might be more effectively punished and humiliated by having people deliberately call him “Mr Graham” despite keeping the title.

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  17. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Graham gave the Ngai Tahu first and second purchase rights to Crown assets held in the South Island FOR EVER – IN PERPETUITY.

    He should have been charged for that. He also gave them a top up right of further compensation if other Maori settlements exceeded a certain amount. They have.

    The person who negotiated on behalf of the tribe was Chris Finlayson, now Minister of Treaty Settlements. It looks as though he will sign the top up for the tribe that he himself negotiated for it.

    Whatever compensation the Ngai Tahu deserved, the settlement was way over the top.

    Finlayson was in the news again this week, boosting the “settlement” for Tuhoi. I think he said on TV that people should read “history” to see how Tuhoi had been treated by white settlers. I think by “history” he was referring to the wave of neo-history by liberal revisionists of recent years often based on oral traditions, rather than the written evidence that holds for non-indigenous folk.

    However,in the finance company mess, what is fair for Graham should be fair also for another class of participant. Not only celebrity directors should have been charged over the finance companies fiasco. So should the celebrities who used their “fame” to promote some of these companies.

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  18. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    If you give a joker a Knighthood for fiddling away folks money to a bunch of thieving pricks how can you take it away if he carries on doing that after politics just cause the new lot of thieving pricks are a different colour?

    Sounds a tad racist to me! :)

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  19. KevinH (1,227 comments) says:

    The Courts chose to make an example of Sir Douglas and associates, to send a message as well as a warning, that accountability and transparency are paramount and that there will be consequences if you choose to ignore that advice.
    Sir Douglas’s reputation has been irreparably damaged, my view is that that is sufficient.

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  20. corrigenda (142 comments) says:

    After he left Parliament Graham did what a lot of ex ministers do, he became a director of a company to collect fees and big fees at that. By lending his name to a finance company he gave them credibility. Most people who read the prospectus would have taken into account that one of the directors was an ex Minister of Justice, an ex Attorney General and a Knight of the Realm to boot. They would have relied upon these facts in making their decision to invest their savings. Unfortunately, Graham LIED when he endorsed the company. Don’t tell me he was unaware of the position of the company finances, because as a director he should have made it his business to find out. Ignorance is no excuse. For that reason alone he should be stripped of his knighthood. He is a crook and a fraudster and brings shame to the Honour system. I have written to the UK Honours Secretariat asking that they reverse Key’s decision. An avalanche of protest letters from Kiwis may cause them to take note and also take action to protect the Honours System from such DIShonour. If you want to write the address is:
    Honours and Appointments Secretariat
    Admiralty Arch South
    London SW1A 2WH.
    England
    and airmail postage is $2.40.

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  21. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    corrigenda

    who are you? All very well you writing but at the moment you are just another anonymous dork on a blog. If you are a real person be proud of what you have done and don’t hide Tell us who you are and those inclined can support you

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  22. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    Nothing more scorned than a Pommie dick who invested in Lombard Finance methinks! :)

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  23. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    The title is for Sir Douglas work as a treaty Minister. However it is clear investors parted with their money on the reputation of Sir Douglas and the knighthood is a no small part of that.,

    Rubbish, they invested because of greed , they thought they could earn an extra 1-2% interest over the banks, absolutely nothing to do with who was on the board, greed people, pure and simple.

    If you buy tantalised fence posts because Colin meads says so I can confidently predict you will be getting a letter from a dead relative who did his banking in Nigeria in the next few days, good luck to ya.

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  24. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    Still a single shot to the temple, from the old Webley, in the Orderly Room would make it all go away by Gad! :)

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  25. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    What the fuck is wrong with Colin’s posts then PEB?

    Cough up mate before my fence collapses! :)

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  26. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    corrigenda

    sounds very like a vexatious nob from a bed sit in Wellington with a blackmail conviction

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  27. corrigenda (142 comments) says:

    Can I really buy “TANTALISED” fence posts?? Who is doing the tantalising??. As to who I am?? I am a person who does not trust politicians of any ilk. Not one of them can lie straight in bed. I especially don’t trust ex Ministers who set themselves up as “directors” or “consultants” and then charge megabucks for the use of their name. I am also someone who reads documents before I sign or endorse them. I had a couple of alternative pronunciations suggested to me. Sewer Roger Douglas and Cur Roger Douglas. I like them both. Take your pick!!!

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