Peters was vehemently attacked in the lead-up to the 2008 general election for allegedly accepting a $100,000 contribution from the same Sir Owen two years earlier, then denying it.
Despite a leaked email in which Sir Owen said he’d made a donation to NZ First, when Peters was asked if NZ First had received the money from Sir Owen he held up a sign that read “No”.
He was widely pilloried. NZ First fell short of the 5 per cent threshold by 20,000 votes in the forthcoming general election, disappeared from Parliament and gave John Key’s National Party the election.
As I facilitated the donation in question, I can report – for the first time – that Peters was in fact telling the strict truth.
No he wasn’t. There are two aspects to whether Peters was telling the truth, and Williams focuses on one aspect only – which gives a very misleading impression. I’ll explain.
It was then resolved that a contribution would be made to defray the costs of the court action and a payment was made to the fees account of the lead lawyer, Brian Henry.
The transaction did not involve Peters and no money ever went near him or the NZ First Party. However the privileges committee and media chose to believe the leaked email – and the rest is history.
Peters was asked two things. One was whether Glenn had donated to NZ First and the other was whether he knew in advance about the donation to Brian Henry to cover Peters’ legal fees.
One can argue, like Williams has, that the $100,000 donation was not to NZ First – but to Brian Henry and/or to Peters personally. But that wasn’t the key issue that the Privileges Committee looked into.
Peters claimed that he knew nothing at all about the donation until Henry revealed it. He swore black and blue that he knew nothing at all about it.
The evidence presented to the Privileges Committee (which I attended) was testimony by Glenn and his assistant that it had been discussed. But they had more than their word. The evidence includes
- a phone log showing a lengthy call between Glenn and Peters from 1.27 pm to 1.33 pm
- a phone log showing Peters called Brian Henry from 1.34 pm to 1.39 pm
- a e-mail from Brian Henry at 1.40 pm to Owen Glenn asking for the money, providing a bank account number and referring to his recent discussion with his client
If you believe the two phone calls immediately before the e-mail providing the bank account number for the $100,000 were unrelated, then you are either a member of the Labour Party caucus or I have a bridge for sale!
Also Sue Moroney’s brother testified he heard Peters thank Glenn for the donation.
So let there be no mistake. Peters was not telling the truth. He may have been telling the truth in terms of whether it was a donation to NZ First or not – but there is no way he was telling the truth when he denied knowing anything about the donation. The phone logs and e-mail are a smoking gun.