I’m a big fan of John Armstrong but he should not fall for Clark’s spin:
It didn’t help Key that his colleague Nick Smith made the mistake of responding to Clark’s taunts about the “Freedom of Speech” Trust set up to help pay Smith’s legal bills. Smith replied that he had sought advice from the registrar of pecuniary interest as to what disclosure requirements he should follow. He was told he only needed to declare a pecuniary interest in a trust.
Quick as a flash, Helen Clark retorted that if Smith did not have to declare either debts or gifts, “then nor does Mr Peters”.
She is wrong. The Freedom of Speech Trust is a legal entity and Nick Smith has declared in his register he is a beneficiary of it.
The so called legal fund that Peters has is not a legally constituted trust with Trustees and its own legal personality. It is either a solictor’s trust account (not the same as a trust) or the money went straight to debtors. In both cases it is paying off debts directly on behalf of Peters. And this is not my assertion – this is what Brian Henry said.
Clark’s statement is wrong – simple as that. Smith has declared the beneficial interest in the Trust.
John Armstrong does note some welcome strong language from Gerry Brownlee:
Brownlee accused Peters of touting himself as “one of the great parliamentarians of our age” when his failure to disclose the $100,000 donation from wealthy expatriate Owen Glenn actually displayed Peters’ “utter and complete contempt” for Parliament.
Peters’ claims about what he knew or rather did not know about the donation were “unbelievable”, “irresponsible” and were “destroying the credibility of Parliament” as an institution.
I was on National Radio’s “The Panel” briefly yesterday along with Michelle Boag and David Slack. Jim Mora asked us why National and Labour did not simply get together and agree neither party would do a deal with Winston after the election, hence excluding them from weilding all the power on their 5% (if they make it).
I responded, noting that Michelle and I had both worked for National PMs, and David S for a Labour PM – and that on behalf of the three of us I was sure we would all be willing to represent National and Labour in negotiating such an agreement 🙂
Sadly it isn’t quite that simple, as if a party gets seats in Parliament they are a reality to deal with as they get to vote on every proposed law and budget etc. But I would observer enthusiasm in both Labour and National is waning for dealing with Peters – not just on the actual allegations – but more so on his response to them – his absolute inability to apologise or admit any wrong doing – such as continuing to insist the NZ Herald Editor and Political Editor should apologise to him and resign.