Clarkson goes to ACT

June 2nd, 2011 at 10:22 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Former National MP Bob “the Builder” Clarkson is to defect to the ACT party.

Mr Clarkson said he was disillusioned with the new foreshore and seabed legislation, which restores access to the courts to seek recognition of customary title.

Bob Clarkson will always have my gratitude for winning Tauranga off Winston. His maiden speech also remains a classic.

If Bob is happier in ACT, good on him.

Bob’s testicles are back

March 21st, 2011 at 11:29 am by David Farrar

The BoP Times reports:

A war of words has erupted between former and current local National Party MPs over a controversial potential new law.

Former MP Bob Clarkson has accused current Tauranga MP Simon Bridges of toeing the party line over the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill, while Mr Bridges has said Mr Clarkson “doesn’t much like dealing with complicated issues like this”.

Mr Clarkson also said he tried regaining National’s Tauranga candidacy this year partly to stop the controversial foreshore legislation reaching law.

Bob is only one year older than Jim Anderton, so must be inspired by him.

I’m pretty confident that Simon’s majority will remain in the five figure range. He is extremely popular in Tauranga.

The Marine and Coastal Areas Bill is generating a significant level of angst – especially in provincial cities and towns.

The fact that Hone and others are campaigning against it, because they thinks the test for customary title are far too tough, indicates to me that the balance is about right.

As the NZ Herald reported, the actual difference in positions between National, ACT and Labour are not in fact great – they agree on a lot more than they disagree.

One major point of difference is that ACT believe the courts should set the test for customary title. This is an entirely legitimate view. What isn’t mentioned is that it is quite possible the courts (and it would probable y eventually be a decision of the Supreme Court lead by Chief Justice Elias) would set an easier test for customary title.

Roughan on Bridges

September 25th, 2008 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NZ Herald Assistant Editor John Roughan interviews the next MP for Tauranga – SImon Bridges. Well worth a read.

And the Dom Post reports on Bob Clarkson’s two second valedictory speech.

The SFO evidence

September 19th, 2008 at 6:41 am by David Farrar

No wonder Peters and Cullen are both highly upset at the SFO.  The Herald speculates that the SFO may have told the Privileges Committee that the Spencer Trust paid the $40,000 court costs that Peters paid Bob Clarkson.

If this is true, it is devastating for Peters and his Labour defenders.

The $40,000 is crucial because there is no doubt it was a debt owed by Winston Peters personally to Bob Clarkson. There is an arguable case about whether money given to Henry is paying off Winston’s debts as Henry claims he never invoices Peters. But there is no doubt over the $40,000.

After Brian Henry testified that he paid the $40,000 to Clarkson, it then became clear that this meant Peters had broken the Register’s rules by not declaring that Henry had paid $40,000 on his behalf. But suddenly two days later Peters and Henry claimed Peters had repaid Henry so there was breach on that issue.

If the Herald is correct, and the Spencer Trust reimbursed Henry for the $40,000, then what does it mean?

  1. That Peters broke the rules of the Register by not declaring The Spencer Trust in his annual return.
  2. That Peters and Henry both lied when they claimed Peters had paid Brian Henry back
  3. That Winston has such control of the Spencer Trust, that he can get it to pay his personal bills

Now in an attempt to divert attention from the evidence, Peters and Cullen are going on about a letter that may have been sent by an anonymous SFO staff member some months ago to Ron Mark, criticising Mark for supporting the SFO being wound up.

It was wrong for that staff member to write such a letter, and they should be given a kick in the behind. However this is not exactly the crime of the century. Thousands of state employees have written letters to MPs on issues affecting their employer – anyone remember thousands of firefighters collecting petitions for a referendum to stop their restructuring? However one does expect a higher level of standards from SFO staff and the Director should kick butt now he knows of the letter.

But for the Attorney-General to refuse to express confidence in the SFO Director, due to the actions of one staff member, is appalling. Make no mistake Cullen is not concerned by the letter – he is aghast the SFO may have told the truth to the Privileges Committee and damaged the Government. Cullen is reacting as an accessory after the fact, not as the Attorney-General.

If the Herald is correct, and the SFO does have information that the Spencer Trust paid (back) the $40,000 debt to Bob Clarkson, it would have been outraegous for them to sit on that information. They are reported as having asked the Auditor-General and the Clerk of the House whether they should inform the Privileges Committee of evidence that contradicts the public version of events by the Foreign Minister. Both agencies presumably said “Of course you should, it would be wrong to allow the Privileges Committee make a decision on false information”.

On a minor note

September 18th, 2008 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

One key issue in the Privileges Committee inquiry has been the $40,000 payment to Bob Clarkson for costs. This was ordered by court in the name of Winston Peters, so anyone paying it on his behalf most certainly would need to have been declared.

Brian Henry says he personally paid the $40,000 – meaning he should have been listed in Winston’s register.

After media and blog attention focused on this, Brian and Winston claimed a couple of days later that it was all sorted out as Winston had repaid Brian shortly thereafter.

My question is, was this ever submitted formally to the Privileges Committee, and if so was any proof of repayment supplied? Anyone know?

Media on Henry and Peters

August 20th, 2008 at 6:17 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

The immediate past president of the Bar Association, Jim Farmer, QC, says the Law Society could be interested in the way Mr Henry is paid. …

Mr Henry told the committee that none of Mr Glenn’s $100,000 was used to pay for the $40,000 paid to Mr Clarkson’s solicitor for the costs settlement in March 2006.

How can he know this? If $100,000 from Glenn went into Henry’s bank account and he paid $40,000 to Clarkson from the same account, then it is all mixed in together. Possibly the $100,000 went into his business account and he paid the $40,000 from his personal account – in which case that conclusion would be more warranted. This would be the correct way of doing it, as the $40,000 Henry paid is not a tax deductible expense. It was not a debt he owed, so he should have paid it out of his after tax income, not his pre-tax income.

And while they are not issues for the Privileges Committee, I have received expert advice that the $40,000 payment was a gift to Peters and should have had gift duty paid on it by Henry. If Henry failed to pay gift duty on it, then Peters is liable for the gift duty.

Dr Norman raised the question of the $40,000 costs and said yesterday he had received a tip-off that it could be an interesting line of questioning. He said the $40,000 payment was more clear-cut than the Owen Glenn donation. “It’s absolutely black and white.”

Mr Peters had a personal debt and Mr Henry paid for it, he said.

“If you have got a debt and someone pays it for you then you should declare that someone had paid it, even if you don’t know who did.

Russel Norman is quite correct that the $40,000 is black and white compared to the other issues.

“There is just some pool in which debits and credits seems to float. It’s incredible – in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars both ways – and it is very hard to prove anything.”

One question is why is it done in this way? Why not set up a legal trust with some trustees to fundraise for the legal bills? Have WInston declare his beneficial interest in the trust. That is how Nick Smith did it, and would seem to be a far more appropriate way to do it.

Dr Farmer described the relationship as “extremely unorthodox”.

Being paid by some third party [Owen Glenn] and the client not knowing was unheard of, he said.

So was the personal payment of $40,000 by Mr Henry.

“I think it might be of concern to the Law Society,” Mr Farmer said.

“Is it right for a barrister to receive $100,000 from a third party where there has never been a fee note rendered to the solicitor instructing him? I would have thought the Law Society would have real concerns about that.”

The president of the Auckland District Law Society, Keith Berman, said it was also very unusual.

“The issue which is uncertain is whether Brian is handling money on behalf of a client or just receiving money in payment of a bill. But as I understand it, he doesn’t issue a bill.”

Interesting issues indeed.

Tracy Watkins writes in the Dom Post:

But Mr Henry’s disclosure that he personally paid the $40,000 in court-ordered legal costs against Mr Peters means it could be considered a gift.

Mr Peters and Mr Henry were at odds over who made the payment, with Mr Peters suggesting he had paid it himself.

How can you not know whether or not you paid $40,000 to Bob Clarkson? If it was $400 maybe, but $40,000?

More on Peters and Henry

August 19th, 2008 at 3:12 pm by David Farrar

Observers at the Committee were unanimous that Brian Henry performed very well. They also signalled out Russel Norman for praise, saying he asked the key question on the Clarkson costs. And despite what some feared, National MPs were not shy in putting questions to Peters and Henry – especially Brownlee and Mapp. Labour MPs I am told either said nothing or asked patsy questions.

A few more thoughts:

  1. It would be an incredibly bad look for Owen Glenn to refuse to take part by video-conference, considering he was honoured by the NZ Government, has a business school building named after him, and is so attached to NZ he wants to be our Consul to Monaco. Any refusal to testify will imply cover-up and guilt by Glenn – even if he has done nothing wrong himself (which I think is the case).
  2. There is little doubt Henry paying a $40,000 debt to Bob Clarkson on behalf of Winston Peters is payment of a debt which should have been disclosed. Ignorance of your own chequebook is no defence.
  3. Other payments by Henry on behalf of Peters may count as a gift or payment of a debt? It is one thing not to charge for your time, but who paid the court filing fees in the defamation case? These fees can come to many thousands of dollars.
  4. Could Brian Henry have paid off the $40,000 debt to Bob Clarkson without Owen Glenn’s donation? It is one thing not to charge for your time, but quite another to pay actual costs. If the Glenn donation preceded the payment to Clarkson (and I understand it did) then Glenn is still the person who effectively paid off that bill. Not necessarily from a legal aspect, but in a practical sense. If someone gives me $100,000 and I use $40,000 of it to pay off my mate’s debt, then that debt relief came about because of the donation.
  5. Does Henry paying the $40,000 debt to Clarkson constitute a gift to Peters on which gift duty should be paid?

The “B” word

August 2nd, 2008 at 1:38 pm by David Farrar

Oh dear. Bob Clarkson goes out as he came in – saying things he shouldn’t.

They had just before lunch the farewells for the five retiring MPs. And each of those there (Connell wasn’t attending) said some brief words of thanks. Bob concluded his thanks by saying “Oh and Judy won’t like me saying this, but I also want to thank the 150 Brethren who helped my campaign”.

God it was hilarious. After a moment of stunned silence, everyone burst into laughter (especially on the media table) as it was classic Bob. Well, not quite everyone was laughing – the top stage did resemble a collection of statues 🙂

NBR on tax on Owen Glenn gift

July 25th, 2008 at 2:15 pm by David Farrar

A fascinating article in NBR (offline) on what Brian Henry says regarding tax on the Owen Glenn gift:

Mr Henry said last Friday that he had solicited the money from Mr Glenn. He told NBR this money was paid directly to him as accounts for costs – basically an arrangement for fees incurred in a case to date.

As I understand it, it is highly highly unusual for a barrister to get paid directly, let alone to go out seeking donations for his costs.

He said these were treated just as fees would be and so tax had been paid on the amount. “It’s my fees. It goes into my fees bill that goes to the IRD in the usual way.”

This is of course expected. You get your fees paid and you pay income tax. But that is separate to whether there is gift duty.

However, he said that Mr Peters had no legal obligation to pay him fees incurred in the legal proceedings and so there was no donation that was needed to be declared under Parliament’s register of pecuniary interests.

Essentially, Mr Henry said, there was no debt until he issued a final invoice (called a “fee note”) to the instructing solicitor in the case, who would invoice Mr Peters. However, he admitted Mr Peters had paid him directly in the past as a contribution to legal costs.

Brian Henry is arguing that as he had not actually issued an invoice yet, then there was no debt and no gift. But I am unsure if the lack of an invoice means there is no debt- the debt is incurred I would have thought when you contract someone to perform services for you – even if not yet invoiced for it. Otherwise thousands of people could rort the tax system by having someone pay for services on their behalf before an invoice is issued for it.

The substance is would Winston Peters have ended up paying an extra $100,000 to Brian Henry if Owen Glenn had not donated on his behalf. Absolutely. Both Henry and Peters have said he picks up the shortfall.

“There doesn’t have to be an invoice – he can pay on account of costs. He says I can afford to pay you this today and I say thank you.”

However, Bar Association president Jim Farmer QC said interim payments should not be accepted by barristers except for work actually done.

“A barrister must render a fee note if he wants to be paid,” he told NBR.

Sounds like Mr Henry’s practises are highly unusual, to say the least.

Sources close to the litigation in question – where Mr Peters tried to overturn the 2005 election result in Mr Peters‘ former seat of Tauranga – say Mr Peters “really had his bacon saved” when money came in for costs.

That’s because the respondent, National MP Bob Clarkson, had threatened Mr Peters with bankruptcy proceedings after the $40,000 costs order in favour of Mr Clarkson was not met within three weeks.

And that is an interesting aspect. What if some of the $100,000 went to the court costs not just Henry’s expenses. How can you claim that is not a gift?

Also if Peters was in dire financial straits, doesn’t that make it more likely he would have been in the loop?

NBR inquiries have turned up some uncertainty about how the costs award to Mr Clarkson was paid.

“I gave him about three weeks,” said Mr Clarkson. “Since he’s got a lot of rich friends I thought it’d take about three weeks. It didn’t turn up so we sent a note saying that proceedings would be taken if it wasn’t paid. And the money turned up.”

The cover letter with that payment was from Brian Henry, and the money was paid by a bank cheque. But the bank cheque meant the issuer could not be identified. It was not a bank cheque issued under Mr Peters‘ instructing solicitor’s trust account.

So either Owen Glenn or maybe even a second secret donor paid the court costs to Bob Clarkson? This just simply has to be investigated.

For his part, Mr Henry can’t remember where the payment for the costs order was made from. “I couldn’t answer that.”

Mr Peters‘ instructing solicitor in the case, Dennis Gates, would not comment when asked by NBR if the payment was with money out of his solicitor’s trust account.

It just gets murkier and murkier.

Clarkson stepping down

May 9th, 2008 at 5:12 pm by David Farrar

I’ve been busy in Auckland all day, so only now got online to blog the announcement by Bob Clarkson that he has decided not to stand for Tauranga again.

I think NZ owes Bob a great deal of thanks for getting Winston out of Tauranga. Labour should thank him also because Winston would have caused far more trouble if he still held his seat and knew no matter what he and NZ First was safe. Having lost Tauranga, he has to worry about making 5% or face oblivion, so this has lessened the chance he’ll try and bring the Government down.

Simon Bridges has announced he is putting himself as the new candidate. Simon is one of the local Crown prosecutors, and in his own words:

Mr Bridges has been a prominent criminal lawyer in Tauranga for the past several years, specialising in jury trials.

Mr Bridges was educated in Law and Arts at the University of Auckland before completing a Masters in Law at Oxford University. He has been a long term National Party member and has held positions at senior levels in the Party. He lives in Mount Maunganui and is married to Natalie.

Simon is around 30 and highly respected and liked within National. He would be a long-term MP for Tauranga, rather than someone wanting just one final term before he becomes Ambassador to somewhere.

This gives Winston a dilemma. He has not yet announced where he is standing yet. Just as he hasn’t yet paid back the $158,000. Or explained where the money Dail Jones referred to last year came from. Or filed his donations return which was due on 30 April. But Winston claims Bob used his wealth to defeat him last election. Never mind a Court disagreed.

How bad a look will it be, for Winston to stand against Simon Bridges and lose? There would be no way to sugar coat that one.

It will be an interesting seat to watch. Simon may face others wanting the National nomination – but I would be surprised if he is not the candidate. He has been seen as a future MP since the conference in the late 90s where he stood for Youth Vice-President and gave a speech which one senior Minister labelled the best speech he had ever heard at a conference. People still talk about that speech today.


April 11th, 2008 at 6:45 am by David Farrar

Engage brain before opening mouth.