Field on Labour

November 25th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Simon Day at Stuff reports:

Already under pressure from internal ructions, the Labour Party leadership has been given a mauling by disgraced former MP Taito Phillip Field.

Just over a year after his release from prison, Field, who compared himself with South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, weighed in on Labour’s recent struggles, saying the party has lost its way and been “contaminated” by liberal policy.

The former Helen Clark government, in which he was a minister, had infested the party with homosexuality, Field said.

“There is a perception that they are controlled by homosexuals. It’s like a smell that won’t go away.”

I’d say the bad smell is the former MP who used immigrant slave labour and was sent to jail for corruption.

“Nobody wants to go to prison, but Mandela was imprisoned for 26 years. Who I am to complain?”

Incredible. The sense of entitlement.

Field cited John Banks’ mayoral campaign donation by Kim Dotcom, and Helen Clark signing a painting she didn’t paint for charity, as “prima facie” examples of corruption and fraud.

Helen won’t like that comparison.

Field’s conspiracy theory

September 6th, 2012 at 1:23 pm by David Farrar

Trans-tasman reports:

To add to the gay theme came, like an echo from the past, the accusations of former Labour MP Philip Field. Now out of prison for nearly a year, Field claimed he had been the victim of a gay and lesbian group within Labour who wanted him out of the road due to his profound and deep Christian beliefs.

The existence of a conspiracy minded gay and lesbian group within Labour opposed to Christian beliefs is something we can take as a given. The ability of such a group to conspire with judge, jury and Police to put Field behind bars though is a bit of a stretch.

Maybe they’re like the Freemasons? 🙂

What is a real shame is that Field still does not accept he did anything wrong. To be fair, that is also the position of the NZ Labour Party who have never said he did anything wrong – just that the acknowledged the verdict!

Field to pay some of it baack

September 4th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Disgraced former MP Taito Philip Field has been ordered to pay more than $27,000 to the Solicitor-General for unpaid work carried out on his homes.

Field was found guilty of 11 counts of bribery and 15 counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice in 2009, after he accepted work on his houses from Thai nationals in return for immigration assistance.

He was sent to jail for six years.

Following the case, the Solicitor General applied for Field to pay the money back – an amount he said was $58,000. Field argued it was only $15,000.

It is alleged the four New Zealand properties involved were sold at a profit of $387,500 after being held, on average, for about 18 months.

In a judgement released today, Judge Rodney Hansen ordered Field to pay back $27, 480 – the cost of painting and plastering at the properties, as well as the cost of tiling, painting and plastering at a home in Samoa.

Hopefully that money will make its way to the immigrant labour that worked for free or below minimum wage on his properties.

Supreme Court rejects Field appeal

October 28th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s line that Taito Philip Field was only guilty of being a hard working MP trying to help his constituents has had another setback, with the Supreme Court dismissing his appeal. The Herald reports:

The judges said in their finding there must be a “de minimis defence” available for people such as MPs whereby gifts of token value – such as a rugby jersey – were acceptable.

However, the services Field had received were worth about $50,000, and that could not be considered de minimis.

“While we are satisfied that the acceptance of gifts which are de minimis should not be considered corrupt … the acceptance of other benefits in connection with official actions is rightly regarded as corrupt irrespective of whether there was an antecedent promise or bargain,” they said.

“In the present circumstances, given the substantial nature of the benefits, no such defence was tenable.”

The reason I keep banging on about Field is because Labour to this day have never ever said that his behaviour was corrupt. Even after the Ingram Report came out, the party leadership defended him. Even after the verdict their only comment was they acknowledged the verdict. Their actions stood in total contrast to how ACT dealt with Donna Awatere-Huata (whose offending wasn’t even in her capacity as an MP).

But unless Field pops up as a member of a future Workplace Commission, this is probably the last post on him as he should now fade from view.

Field to be freed on parole

October 6th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Disgraced former MP Taito Phillip Field has been granted parole.

He will be released from jail later this month after serving one-third of his six-year sentence.

This was Field’s first parole hearing.

Field was found guilty of 11 of 12 charges of bribery and corruption as an MP after having Thai nationals carry-out work on his properties in return for immigration assistance between November 2002 and October 2005.

He was also found guilty of 15 of 23 charges of wilfully attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice, alleging he tried to derail investigations into the work on his homes.

I don’t have a huge issue with this. Field is not a threat to the community and unlikely to reoffend. Cases like him are appropriate for early parole. Having said that, I wonder if he accepts he did wrong doing, and has any remorse. he might still hold to the official Labour position that the only thing he was guilty of is trying too hard to help his constituents.

Field’s appeal

June 22nd, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Lawyers for jailed former MP Taito Phillip Field have begun their submissions in the Supreme Court this morning.

Field is serving a six-year jail term after he was found guilty of 11 bribery and corruption charges as an MP. It related to having Thai nationals carry out work on his properties in return for immigration assistance between November 2002 and October 2005.

He was also found guilty of 15 of 23 charges of wilfully attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice.

This morning his lawyer Helen Cull, QC, opened his appeal to the country’s highest court.

Cull said Field’s actions did not amount to bribery, and that New Zealand law lacked the provision to properly deal with illegal gratuities accepted by MPs in their official capacities.

She argued something more than a link between a reward offered as a “thank you” and something he had done in his role as an MP, was required to prove corruption.

She said some improper or illicit action was required, and his processing the Thai workers’ immigration applications in the usual way did not amount to this.

I don’t think you can call the processing the usual way. The stats showed that Field’s ministerial colleagues basically rubber-stamped any application he put forward.

Field appeals again

March 21st, 2011 at 10:04 am by David Farrar

As readers will know, Labour has never ever said that they think Taito Philip Field was guilry of bribery and corruption. Their sole public statement to date has been they “acknowledge” the verdict.

It seems Field himself shares their view that he is not guilty of anything more than working hard for his constituents as he has appealed again. Belinda McCammon at Stuff reports:

Disgraced former Labour MP Taito Phillip Field has been granted leave to appeal his 2009 conviction for fraud, by the Supreme Court.

Field, who is currently serving a six year jail term, was found guilty of 11 of 12 charges of bribery and corruption as an MP over having Thai nationals carry out work on his properties in return for immigration assistance between November 2002 and October 2005.

He was also found guilty of 15 of 23 charges of wilfully attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice, alleging he tried to derail investigations into the work on his homes. …

In a judgement released by the Supreme Court today Field was given leave to appeal his sentence on the grounds of whether the Court of Appeal had correctly stated the test for corruptly accepting a bribe.

The Supreme Court sits in Wellington. I might sit it on that case once it is heard.

Field appeals – again

January 29th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Jailed former MP Taito Phillip Field is going to the Supreme Court in another bid to have his fraud convictions overturned.

Field filed papers in Wellington this week after the Court of Appeal last year dismissed his appeal against his conviction and sentence.

He was jailed in October 2009 after being convicted by a jury in the High Court at Auckland of 11 charges of bribery and corruption as a MP, and 15 charges of perverting the course of justice.

Field was jailed for six years, the first MP to be jailed for bribery, corruption and perverting the course of justice. He was an MP for 12 years, for Labour then as an independent.

Field obviously still believes Labour’s official line that he isn’t guilty of anything more than trying to help his constituents.

Field’s appeal dismissed on all counts

November 26th, 2010 at 11:23 am by David Farrar

The Court of Appeal has dismissed Taito Philip Field’s appeal on all grounds. Good.

Does this mean Labour will now finally come out and say they agree Field was corrupt while an MP. All they have been able to say to date is they acknowledged the verdict.

Arguably the most hypocritical statement of the decade

November 23rd, 2010 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

Just when I thought their collective amnesia and rewriting of history could not get worse, Phil Goff hits a new record.

Here is the NZPA story:

Prime Minister John Key should stop protecting former minister Pansy Wong and sack her after she misused MPs travel perks, Labour leader Phil Goff says. …

“She is aware of when she broke the rules and how often she broke the rules. It doesn’t need a speaker’s inquiry to confirm that.” …

“I just remember the constant attention that was given to Chris Carter. No excuses for Carter. I never made any. Excuses are being made for Wong,” he said.

“Other MPs have been prosecuted criminally for doing what she has done. She is still there as an MP, she ought not to be.”

When asked about leniency for former Labour Minister Taito Phillip Field, who is in jail for misusing his position, Mr Goff said that case needed to be determined in court.

“He was prosecuted. He was booted out of the Labour Party and I say there is enough evidence that the same should happen to Pansy Wong.”

So Phil Goff is demanding Pansy be booted out of Parliament without even any sort of report or inquiry. Further down we will look at Labour’s record on this, but let us put things in perspective. Pansy claimed a perk she should not have. For doing so she was immediately sacked from Cabinet.

Numerous Ministers in the last Government had the taxpayer pay for things, which they were not entitled to. We paid for Shane Jones’ porn, amongst other things. None of those former Ministers have quit Parliament over it. Even Chris Carter was merely demoted from the front bench to the second bench. That was in fact a pathetic punishment.

But let us look at our friend Taito Philip Field. Did Labour sack him without even waiting for an inquiry? No, they did not. Here is what they did.

  1. Refuse to sack him when allegations arose before election
  2. Refuse to have an inquiry before the election
  3. Defend Field as being only guilty of helping his constituents
  4. After election announce an inquiry with no powers
  5. When inquiry finally reports (six months later – and Goff is complaining about a two week wait) it details dozens of abuses, lies and the like from Field.
  6. Amazingly Labour still defends Field, with Cullen saying he is only guilty of working harder for his constituents than National MPs
  7. Also Clark holds out the possibility that Field could return to the Ministry, despite the abuses listed in the report.
  8. And Labour at no stage move to evict Field from caucus for his criminal behaviour and multiple abuses. They only kicked him out when he publicly mused that he could stand for another party, if not re-selected.

So Goff’s hypocrisy is simply staggering. In Government they defended a corrupt MP, even after a damning report highlighted his abuses. In Opposition, they are demanding Pansy be sacked from Parliament without even waiting for any sort of report.

Let me be clear – if the report by the Parliamentary Service concludes criminal behaviour has been involved, then the Police should prosecute. Even if no criminal behaviour is involved, what emerges from the report may be serious enough that Pansy is not re-selected as a candidate, or even is expelled from Caucus. But those decisions can not be made without knowing the facts.

Field’s appeal

September 21st, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Lawyers for New Zealand’s only member of Parliament to be prosecuted for bribery and corruption, Taito Phillip Field, have begun his appeal against conviction.

Field, who turns 58 on Sunday, is serving a six years jail term for bribery and corruption, and obstructing justice. …

Ms Cull said that what Field was accused of was not bribery, which she defined as receiving a benefit to influence the behaviour of an official in office.

Field had done nothing that was illegal in helping with the immigration cases of the Thai tradesman who worked at various properties field owned, she said.

At best he received gratuities, which was not an offence.

Field is entitled to an appeal.

The arguments put forward by his lawyer are seemingly shared by the Labour Party, as they went out of their way to never say they accept their colleague was corrupt – the only statement they made was they “acknowledge” the verdict.

Who knows – if Field wins his appeal, he may still be in time to get a list nomination for them.

Hypocritical ******

September 18th, 2010 at 1:53 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Act Party has been “thoroughly” discredited and its ministerial positions should be removed, Labour leader Phil Goff says.

Now I have been critical, both on this blog and on radio, of Rodney’s decision not to force Garrett to make his offending known before the election. It was an error of judgement, and ACT have been damaged by it.

But I’m sorry, it is just too much to have Labour get sanctimonious on this, and declare that because of this, Rodney is unfit to be a Minister.

Need I remind people of Taito Philip Field – the MP found to have committed numerous corrupt practices while a Labour Minister and MP.

Field’s offending was not 26 years before he became an MP. It was while he was an MP. Field’s offending was not incidental to him being an MP – it was corruption in the course of his MP duties. And it was corruption aided by his Ministerial colleague who rubber stamped almost every immigration application made by Field.

And what happened when allegations were made. The Labour leadership defended Field. They said he was only guilty of working too hard.

And even after the full scale of his offending was made clear by the Ingram Report, the Labour leadership still defended him. If Rodney Hide is unfit to be a Minister, then Helen Clark and Michael Cullen were equally unfit to be Ministers.

Even worse, Labour never booted Field out for his criminal offending. He only got booted out when he talked of not standing for Labour.

And the final indignity came after he was found guilty of 11 charges of bribery and corruption (and 11 of perverting or obstructing the course of justice). Labour not only refused to apologise for the huge shame Field was, but they refused to even accept he was guilty. I’m not making this up – go check the records. The only comment they would make is they “acknowledge” the verdict.

So yes Rodney made a mistake, and yes ACT is damaged. But for fucks sake the last thing we need is a lecture in ethics from the party that gave protection and defence to a corrupt MP. If Labour ever get around to actually apologising for their defence of Field, then maybe they get to be taken seriously on ethical issues.

Dom Post on Field and Labour

October 8th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dominion Post looks at both Field, and those who got off:

Bravo. Justice Rodney Hansen has resisted the temptation to let disgraced former MP Taito Phillip Field off with a slap on the wrist and sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment. …

As Justice Hansen said, he betrayed the trust placed in him as an MP and undermined the institutions it was his duty to uphold.

Jail time is warranted. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world in which political corruption is not endemic. By his actions, Field threatened to erode standards that have served New Zealand well.

The court’s sentencing notes are very interesting. The appropriate penalties for the crimes were deemed to be five years for the bribery and corruption and four years for perverting the course of justice.  This would be a total of nine years.

Justice Hansen said nine years would be excessive as the two categories of offending are closely linked, even though they are distinct. It is because they are distinct the two penalties are cumulative, not concurrent. He said that seven and a half years would be the appropriate sentence for the offending.

He then deducted a further 18 months off to take account of mitigating factors, so got to the final sentence of six years.

However, if Field has got his just deserts, others have got off lightly. Those others are the senior members of the Labour Party who ran interference for him for almost 18 months and who are now ducking for cover.

They won’t even say if they agree he broke the law.

Readers might remember that former prime minister Helen Clark was slow to act when questions were first asked about Field’s conduct, perhaps because the 2005 election was in the offing, and that when she did, she established an inquiry with narrow terms of reference and without the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.

Hence Field was able to claim he had been vindicated by an inquiry that found no evidence he had misused his position as minister for personal benefit.

And no other conclusion was possible given the terms of reference as he had no portfolio responsibilities in the area. The issue always was whether he had misused his position as an MP, not a Minister. The framing of the inquiry was designed to clear him.

Deputy prime minister Michael Cullen appeared to agree. Field’s “fundamental fault was to work too hard for the many, many hundreds of people who come to his electorate office on immigration matters”, he said.

And he said this after he had read the numerous abuses of office detailed in the Ingram Report.

What he overlooked, deliberately or otherwise, was the numerous questions the inquiry raised about Field’s conduct as an MP as opposed to his conduct as a minister.

And which Labour has never condemned. He used his loyal Thais as slave labour, and Labour has not a word of criticism. How sincere are the about the need to raise the minimum wage, when they defended their colleague who was found to be paying no wages at all!

Field’s sentencing closes a sorry chapter in politics. He has shamed himself, his family and the Samoan community, which was so proud when he was first elected to Parliament.

The blame lies not with the Samoan community, however, but with Field and the Labour Party, which, for political reasons, tried to shield him from scrutiny long after his position became untenable.

And we are still awaiting a clear statement from Labour that they agree Field was corrupt, let alone an apology for their defence of him. One can only conclude they do not think his behaviour was corrupt.

Does Labour think Field broke the law?

October 7th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A friend pointed something out to me. He told me that never ever had Labour said they agreed that Field was corrupt and broke the law. I didn’t think he could possibly be right, but I went back to check their statements, and this is their exact words. On being found guilty:

Labour acknowledges the jury’s decision today on charges brought against Taito Phillip Field after a long and difficult trial, Labour Chief Whip Darren Hughes said.

“Mr Field was expelled from the Labour Party in 2007. Labour has acted in good faith throughout this process.

“The jury has decided that Mr Field acted illegally.

“The judge is yet to sentence Mr Field. Labour will make no further comment.”

They “acknowledge” the decision. They do not accept the decision. They do not welcome the decision. They do not say if they agree what Field did was corrupt. They do not say if they think it was wrong he obstructed the course of justice. They “acknowledge” the decision.

And yesterday:

Deputy Labour Leader Annette King made the following statement on the sentencing today of Taito Phillip Field.

“This sentence demonstrates that all New Zealanders are equal under the law.

“Taito Phillip Field has been judged by his peers. He must now serve the sentence handed down in the Auckland High Court.”

Labour will not be making any other comment on this matter.

Again not a word on whether or not they agree that Field was corrupt. They merely state he has been judged by his peers. Their language is the classic language of people who disagree with something.

So that is my first question to Phil Goff. Does the Labour Party agree that their former colleague acted corruptly? Is this why they won’t express remorse for defending Field – is it because they think he did not break the law?

The Dom Post reports on how Labour is refusing comment:

Labour has pulled down the shutters over the fall from grace of former MP Taito Phillip Field, after standing by him for more than a year during claims of bribery and corruption. …

Labour stood by Field for more than a year and continued to defend him after former prime minister Helen Clark was forced to order an independent inquiry by Auckland QC Noel Ingram.

Dr Ingram’s report cleared Field of a conflict of interest but the Labour government was heavily criticised after Dr Ingram revealed he had been given no power to compel evidence. …

Dr Ingram said yesterday that it was “clearly the case” that his inquiry had been frustrated by the refusal of witnesses to co-operate. He agreed that the outcome would have been different if that had not been the case.

Now bearing in mind that report from the Dom Post, prepare to damage yourself laughing at this post on The Standard from Eddie:

Taito Philip Field has been sentenced to six years jail for bribery and corruption.

Field is a prime example of the ability of power to corrupt. He let down all those who put their trust in him – his community, his former party, and the voters.

We are fortunate that in New Zealand corruption by politicians is not tolerated. This sentence will be a healthy reminder of that for any others who are tempted to exploit the trust placed in them by the public for their personal gain.

This is such an audacious attempt to rewrite history that it is obvious why Eddie refuses to blog under his real name. He would be a laughing stock if people knew who he was.  I mean even after the multiple abuses were detailed in the Ingram Report, Helen Clark said Field could return as a Minister one day, and Michael Cullen said:

the fundamental fault Mr Field committed was to work too hard on behalf of the many, many hundreds of people who come to his electorate office on immigration matters.” …

He works harder on those matters than I suspect the entire National Party caucus does on constituency cases. If that is what he is guilty of, then I am sure he is happy to plead guilty to working hard on behalf of his constituents.

Again this was not a statement made in the early days, when the allegations were just that. This was after the report by Noel Ingram QC laid out bare and detailed the multiple abuses by Field. And anonymous Eddie at The Standard claims there is no tolerance. Not only was there tolerance, there was an active defence.

For those who want a reminder of the timelline, I have it here. Also back in July 2006 I blogged a summary of all the abuses that Ingram detailed in his report. And again all these abuses were known about by Labour when they decided to defend him in Parliament, led by the then Deputy Prime Miinister.

I can’t quite decide if Eddie is secretly ashamed of how Labour behaved, but won’t admit it, or if he actually honestly believes Labour was right to defend Field, and that this did not constitute tolerating corruption.

Field gets six years

October 6th, 2009 at 2:20 pm by David Farrar

Former Labour MP Taito Phillip Field has been sentenced to six years jail. He got four years for bribery and corruption and two years for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He is the only MP to ever be convicted for crimes in his capacity as an MP.

The sentence is a bit longer than what I thought he would get, but entirely appropriate considering the nature of the offending- the fact he did it as an MP, using his office as an MP.

In total Field was found guilty on 26 charges.

The sentencing of Field is effectively the last chance for Labour to apologise for their defence of Field. I blogged on their woeful actions in defending him, and attacking those who exposed him, when he was found guilty. One can forgive them their initial defence before the facts were known, but they behaved shamefully after the Ingram Report came out, exposing what he had done. Dr Cullen repeated the line that all he is guilty of is working harder than the National MPs opposite. The smugness in the face of such a damning report was part of why Labour lost. Helen did not even rule out that he may return as a Minister – and again this is after she read the report.

UPDATE: Labour have put out a PR:

Deputy Labour Leader Annette King made the following statement on the sentencing today of Taito Phillip Field.

“This sentence demonstrates that all New Zealanders are equal under the law.

“Taito Phillip Field has been judged by his peers. He must now serve the sentence handed down in the Auckland High Court.”

Labour will not be making any other comment on this matter.

Why not? This offending happened while he was a Labour MP. It was not incidental to his job. this was not offending in his spare time. This was corruption relating to his job. And Labour defended him when this wrongdoing was exposed by Ingram. That may be embarrassing, but that is not a reason to refuse comment. I hope the media are not spineless on this, and allow Labour to get away with no comment. There is no way they would let John Key not comment if one of his MPs was convicted of corruption *as an MP*. The next time Phil Goff does a press conference, or media standup, or walks down the corridor to the House, he should be asked if Labour regrets defending Taito Philip Field after he Ingram report came out.

Field claims clear conscience but expresses remorse

October 3rd, 2009 at 9:54 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Disgraced former MP Taito Phillip Field broke his silence last night, telling supporters his conscience was clear but he was regretful and remorseful about the situation he was in.

So when will Labour express remorse for backing him, even after the Ingram Report detailed the multiple abuses?

The left on Taito Phillip Field

August 7th, 2009 at 2:42 pm by David Farrar

Well the silence from most left blogs on the shame of Taito Philip Field has been illuminating. Public Address just did a one line post on their discussion board announcing the verdict. Red Alert remains strangely silent. The various Labour Party members blogs have said nothing much. Of course this is similiar to their comments at the time. Nowhere did they call out for their party to do the right thing and stop defending Field as a man of integrity whose only crime was to work too hard.

There was one notable exception. No Right Turn has, not surprisingly, covered Field in detail from the very first allegations, and decried both Field and his apologists.He was the first to suggest Field’s action represented criminal offending – back in Sep 2005.

Some extracts from what he said back then:

On 8 August 2006:

It’s official: the Labour Party supports corruption. That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from Helen Clark’s refusal to consider internally censuring corrupt MP Taito Philip Field. …

I expect all political parties in New Zealand to take a hard line against corruption, and when this sort of case comes up, to condemn it and any member involved. Labour’s refusal to do so sends a clear message: that they will turn a blind eye to corruption in order to retain power. This is simply unacceptable, and such a party is not worthy of anyone’s vote.

And on 15 August 2006:

As for the argument that a by-election would threaten the government’s majority, what of it? There are some things more important than being in government – and maintaining the integrity of our political system against corruption is one of them. If Labour can’t stay in power except by looking the other way on this sort of thing, then arguably it shouldn’t be in power at all.

Also of interest in a post from Bryce Edwards, who quotes David Lange in 1997 highlighting dodgy electoral spending and donations returns from Field in 1996. Even back then people were raising issues.

UPDATE: Another honourable exception to the silence was Jeremy Greenbrook-Held. He said in July 2006:

I’m embarrassed that I’m a member of the same political party as this man, and, for the record, would love to see a full privilages committee inquiry into his conduct as an MP. It is not worth loosing Margaret Wilson as speaker to cover this up.

Editorials on Field

August 6th, 2009 at 11:13 am by David Farrar

All four major daily newspapers devoted today’s editorial to Taito Philip Field. Good – the first ever conviction of a corrupt MP, should not pass without major scrutiny.

First the Herald:

One of the prime consequences of the Field case should be the removal of immigration decisions from a Beehive desk. It is wrong that individual cases can be taken to a minister – usually a junior minister and often not in the Cabinet – who has the power to overrule the decisions of officers who have applied the general rules and polices the Government has set.

No doubt the ultimate power is preserved for a minister in case bureaucratic consistency causes the occasional political embarrassment, such as the admission of an undesirable or the exclusion of someone who attracts public sympathy. But if exceptions need to be made at times, better they are made by an independent public panel than a politician in a quiet office accessible mainly to his parliamentary cohorts.

I think you do need a final decider who can apply some common sense to situations, as strictly applying pre-set criteria can cause some perverse outcomes in immigration cases.

However what I would do is have greater transparency around MP representations to the Minister. Publish a regular table of how many representations an MP has made, and how many decisions favourable to their efforts were granted. If that had been in place for Field, we would have seen early on that his colleagues were greenlighting a massive proportion of cases he advocated – far more off memory than any other MP. That should have rung bells.

Secondly The Press:

Instead he will go down in history as the first man in New Zealand politics to be convicted of bribery and corruption. The jury unanimously found him to be guilty of 11 out of the 12 counts of bribery and corruption he faced, and also guilty of 15 counts (out of 23) of obstructing justice arising out of his attempts to cover up his wrongdoing. Rather than serving his constituents, he was found by the jury to have corruptly exploited some of the most vulnerable of them.

And this exploitation was lauded by his colleagues as working hard and a tribute to his integrity – even after they had been detailed by Ingram.

Among the most shameful aspects of this sorrowful affair was the attempt by the Labour government of the time, when the scandal first made the headlines, to trivialise it. The prime minister, Helen Clark, set up an inquiry, but it was woefully underpowered, with terms of reference set very narrowly and no power to compel testimony. When it nonetheless reported back detailing a range of abuses by Field and suggesting strongly that it had been misled, Clark and other Labour leaders continued to support Field in the House.

It was perhaps just poor judgement to initially support Field against unproven allegations. But to carry on supporting him after the Ingram Report detailed his wrong-doing was a huge failure of leadership. And they did it again after the Privileges Committee exposed Winston’s lies. To their shame every single Labour MP voted to believe Winston despite the fact he changed his story so many times, as documents kept contradicting it.

Thirdly is the ODT:

An inquiry ordered by Miss Clark, but with ludicrously narrow terms of reference, found he had exercised poor judgement but was not guilty of criminal misconduct.

However, more allegations followed, including that he had falsified information given to the inquiry, and a police investigation led to his trial in the High Court.

Actually Ingram made quite clear in his report that he had serious doubts over some of the information and testimony of Field.

Thus was the great political hope of Pacific Islanders – and of the Labour Party in 1993 when he was first elected – brought down to the level of common criminal, the first New Zealand politician to be convicted of corruption, now facing possibly a lengthy jail term.

There can be little sympathy for Field.

The challenge is to make sure there will not be a second.

An finally the Dominion Post:

He was, according to then prime minister Helen Clark, probably only guilty of “trying to be helpful to someone”.

A jury has disagreed, and Taito Phillip Field has become the first New Zealand MP to be convicted of accepting bribes and acting corruptly.

Clark’s comment was stupid and unwise, but at least she had the defence of saying it when the allegations were first aired. Far far more serious was the continued defence of Field after the Ingram Report detailed his activities. For that there is no defence.

Field’s crime struck at the heart of our system of government. That those he used his office to take advantage of were among the most vulnerable of people immigrants desperate to stay in New Zealand makes his behaviour all the more abhorrent.

Sadly, the affair reflects badly not only on Field, but on those politicians who put pragmatism and keeping his vote ahead of principle, and tried to close the issue down rather than do the right thing. Miss Clark was initially dismissive, using her favoured “move along, nothing to see here” strategy. When people didn’t, she launched a narrow inquiry under Noel Ingram QC.

The terms of reference made the conclusion inevitable. Clark did not count though on how thorough Ingram would be at documenting abuses, even if they were not related to Field in his capacity as a Minister.

Despite the constraints on Dr Ingram and a distinct lack of co-operation from some of those involved his report made it clear that something was terribly amiss in the way Field had been handling immigration issues to everyone but Labour MPs, that is. They continued to defend him.

MP Russell Fairbrother told Parliament the report was a tribute to Field’s integrity. Deputy prime minister Michael Cullen praised him as a hard-working member. Miss Clark continued to peddle the line that the issue was done with.

I urge readers to go back and read the Ingram Report if they have the time. If I was an MP I would rather resign than be forced to get up in Parliament and claim the report was a tribute to Field’s integrity and that he had done nothing wrong. Such a line was preposterous and insulting.

And to this day we still have not had a word of regret from Labour. Not just regret for the corruption, but for defending action that goes to the core of what Labour claims it stands for – protecting poor vulnerable people from exploitation. When one of their own is the exploiter, they went silent. It was only Andrew Little, some weeks later, who started to make the case that regardless of the legality, Field’s actions were reprehensible.

Armstrong on Field

August 5th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Then Prime Minister Helen Clark stood Field down as a minister and appointed Noel Ingram, QC, as a one-person inquiry. Ingram’s report raised extremely serious questions about Field’s behaviour and should have been immediately referred to the police.

Apart from slapping Field across the wrist for making “errors of judgment”, Labour instead held its nose and stuck by him for fear of alienating its large Pacific Island vote. Labour was wary of provoking him into holding a byelection in his Mangere seat. Crucially, he also held a casting vote in Parliament .

But they were generally winning confidence and supply votes by a dozen vote margin or so.

The biggest lesson may be to prime ministers to be more careful about playing politics when it comes to setting up inquiries. Labour thought it could get the outcome it wanted by limiting Ingram’s ability to investigate the allegations against Field.

The corruption cover-up.

Despite that handicap, Ingram produced a report which was damning of the MP. Ingram can hold his head high. The QC is alone in emerging from this affair with his credit enhanced.

Ingram did a fine job. And kudos also to Lockwood Smith who prosecuted the case against Field and Labour in the House so efficiently.

Labour’s apology for defence of corrupt exploitative MP

August 5th, 2009 at 8:04 am by David Farrar

Well I would blog it, but there isn’t one. Instead we have a range of reactions from Labour that vary from no comment to trying to rewrite history.

What is especially shameful isn’t just that the Labour leadership and other MPs defended a corrupt MP. But they defended an MP who was exploiting the most vulnerable members of society and treating them as close to slave labour. He got his mate the Associate Minister to get them into NZ, and they worked unpaid for weeks or months on end making Field richer.

Field was everything the Labour Party claims to be against. And all his sins and abuses were detailed by Ingram. And even then they defended him. Clark even said he could return to the Ministry one day – compare that to Key on Worth.

Labour Ministers said there was no issue about his having slave labour work for free on his properties as hey were contractors, not employees!! And never at that time was there a denouncing of what Field did – because they needed his vote.

So did we get it last night. No. First Eddie from The Standard tried to rewrite history in a fashion that could make for a George Orwell novel. He said:

Good on Clark for sacking him as a minister when the allegations first came out.

She never sacked him. And even after the Ingram report came out, she refused to rule out he could be re-appointed to the Ministry.

Another liar at The Standard claims I invented the quote from the PM “the only thing of which Taito Philip Field is guilty is being helpful“.

What a disgusting lowlife. A sycophant who won’t criticise his own party for their disgraceful defence of Field, he just invents lies. Here is the full story on 13 September 2005 from Newstalk ZB. It is in the NZPA database and is no #1436468. I don’t expect an apology because I wouldn’t accept one from the anonymous coward.

Helen Clark says Taito Philip Field was making representation on someone’s behalf with regard to Thai man in Samoa The Prime Minister says the only thing of which Taito Philip Field is guilty is being helpful.

The Labour MP and State Minister has become involved in the efforts of a Thai man seeking residency. The man is waiting in Samoa for his application to be processed after he was denied refugee status.

Sunan Siriwan has been given a job by Taito Phillip Field to tile a house in Samoa.

Mr Field has written in support of the man to Associate Immigration Minister Damien O’Connor.

Helen Clark says Mr Field was making representation on someone’s behalf as MPs often do. She says if they cannot do that, they might as well shut the electorate office doors.

Then we have the Labour MPs, instead of their apologists. The Herald reports:

The man who replaced him as MP for Mangere, Sua William Sio, said he acknowledged the court’s decision, but would not comment further.

Wow that is a condemnation. Maybe he held back as his own office staff are under investigation over an alleged immigration scam.

Labour leader Phil Goff said: “It’s disappointing that a parliamentarian was found guilty of that conduct.

“The verdict is an indication that whatever you are in society you are equal under the law … the law has followed its course.”

Disappointing? It is a disgrace. And not a word on Labour’s defence of Field as a man of integrity whose only sin was to work too hard. And not a word of sympathy for Field’s victims – the so called “strugglers” Labour claims to champion.

Stuff reports:

Labour chief whip Darren Hughes said the party acknowledged the verdict, but had no further comment.

Labour have had months to prepare for this verdict, and this is all they can say.

Unless someone from Labour’s parliamentary wing  does a sincere apology for their behaviour over Field, the conclusion many people will reach is they are unfit to hold office again, and that their so called concern for the welfare of vulnerable New Zealanders is insincere.

Field’s guilt and Labour’s shame

August 4th, 2009 at 5:10 pm by David Farrar

In a shameful first, a (former) New Zealand Member of Parliament has been found guilty of corruption in relation to his duties as an MP. He championed the cause of poor people, while illegally exploiting them.

But the same is not just with Taito Philip Field, but with the Labour Party. Because they defended him time and time again. I draw a contrast between how Labour responded to corruption allegations against Field, and ACT against Donna Awatere-Huata (and hers were allegations that were not even about her role as a MP).

ACT demanded Donna explain herself, and when she could not they suspended her from Caucus, and then used the Electoral Integrity Act to have her thrown out of Parliament. They even went all the way to the Supreme Court of New Zealand, to to defend their actions in getting her thrown out of Parliament they were so appalled and disgusted by her behaviour.

And now let us contrast that with Labour’s shameful response. I’ll give Labour the benefit of the doubt and assume no Labour MP was aware of what had been happening until One News broke the story on 12 September 2005. In reality I think it is highly probable Associate Immigration Minister Damien O’Connor did know. The NZ Immigration Service overseas offices sent warning notes to him. The claim his staff never showed them to him is probably a convenient fiction. I have worked in Ministerial offices and know what sort of stuff would never ever be kept from the Minister, and official warnings about a Ministerial colleague is not one of them. But this can not be proven, so let us deal just with what we do know for sure:

  1. 12 Sep 05 – One News airs allegations
  2. 13 Sep 05 – PM Helen Clark says “the only thing of which Taito Philip Field is guilty is being helpful“. Yes the PM immediately went into bat for him despite the damning allegations. Her first response was to defend what he had done, not establish the truth.
  3. 14 Sep 05 – Field tells NZPA there was no corruption on his part and no investigation was needed as he had been open with the facts. The PM refuses to order an inquiry due to the looming election, in case it affected the vote in South Auckland. Note that Jenny Shipley in 1999 sacked a Minister two days before the election, after a conflict of interest in relation to immigration issues was raised publicly. Shipley did not hold off doing the right thing just because of an election.
  4. 20 Sep 05 – Clark agrees to an inquiry into the allegations. However the terms of reference are set incredibly narrow – only if Field had a conflict of interest as a Minister. As Field did not hold portfolio responsibilities for immigration, it was always a foregone conclusion he could not be found to have a conflict of interest as a Minister.
  5. 21 Sep 05 – evidence emerges that Field’s wife was being paid from his parliamentary budget, despite this being a breach of the rules.
  6. 21 Sep 05 – Noel Ingram appointed to do the inquiry with a report back date of 4 October 2005. Clark wanted this out of the way quickly and had set terms of reference that made the outcome inevitable. She also gave the inquiry no powers to compel testimony.
  7. 18 Jul 06 – on the eve of the release of the Ingram report, Clark is asked if Field will be staying on as an MP, and she says “I am sure he will”. So even after having read the Ingram report, she saw nothing of concern excepts for some minor “errors of judgement”.
  8. 18 Jul 06 – the Ingram report is released. Ingram details a huge number of abuses and exploitation by Field. He also makes it very clear that he doubts some of what Field told him and that some of the testimony was manufactured. The report of course inevitably says there was no conflict with Field’s ministerial duties – no surprise as he had no portfolio involvement with immigration.
  9. 18 Jul 06 – Clark says Field is not barred from returning to a Ministerial role one day.
  10. 18 Jul 06 – in an estimates debate, Labour MP Russel Fairbrother says “There is no evidence to doubt what Mr Field says. The overall conclusion is that we have a member of Parliament who works very hard and very diligently, and who cooperated fully with the inquiry”. Fairbrother continues his defence of the diligent Field by saying “So what we have is simply a thorough report, by a very experienced Queen’s Counsel, that upholds the integrity of Taito Phillip Field. Taito Phillip Field is a hard-working member.” And even better he concludes “This is a report that Mr Field can wave around as a tribute to his integrity, and it suggests he will continue to be a profitable and good member of the House”. That is what tht Labour MP said at the time.
  11. 18 July 06 – then we had the Deputy Prime Minister in the same debate. Dr Cullen said “Phillip Field handles more immigration cases than probably the whole of the National caucus put together. Why? Because he works hard—unlike that lazy, shallow member [John Key] —on behalf of his constituents.” Dr Cullen holds Field up as an example that all MPs should aspire to.
  12. 18 Jul 06 – we then hear again from Dr Cullen during a snap debate: “the fundamental fault Mr Field committed was to work too hard on behalf of the many, many hundreds of people who come to his electorate office on immigration matters.” Yes Dr Cullen, despite having read the damning Ingram report, touts Field as a wonderful MP whose only problem was he cared too much for his constituents. The same ones he has been found guilty of bribery charges about. Finally Cullen concludes “He works harder on those matters than I suspect the entire National Party caucus does on constituency cases. If that is what he is guilty of, then I am sure he is happy to plead guilty to working hard on behalf of his constituents.
  13. 19 Jul 06 – Clark rules out a further inquiry into Field as “unnecessary”
  14. 21 Jul 06 – Margaret Wilson refuses to refer report to the Privileges Committee despite the massive amount of issues in the report that could be a matter of privilege.
  15. 24 Jul 06 – Helen Clark said “The Government has not been embarrassed by the Taito Phillip Field controversy”. It is true they were not embarrassed, but they should have been. They should have hung their heads in shame they defended Field for so long
  16. 25 Jul 06 – the Government says there is no need to have the Labour Department investigate Field as his helpers were contractors, not employees, and hence minimum wage laws did not apply. Yes Labour Ministers defended Field exploiting immigrants and paying below the minimum wage, on the basis they were contractors. Does this give you some idea of how sincere they are on such issues?
  17. 27 Aug 06 – Sunday airs more allegations against Field
  18. 31 Aug 06. Police announce they are investigating, And Field stood down from Caucus. He is later expelled from Labour – not for any of the multiple abuses detailed in the Ingram Report, but for the cardinal sin of not ruling out standing for another party at the election.

Even if Field’s actions has not been found to be illegal, I blogged on 31 August the huge difference between mere legality and ethically. Long before the Police investigation, the Labour Party should have denounced Field. Instead Clark, Cullen and the rest of the Labour Party defended him. That is why these convictions are their shame.

This would also be a good time for all MPs to come together and declare this should never happen again, and support an Independent Commission against Corruption that can investigate abuses of office by parliamentarians, senior officials and agencies.

Labour official in immigration probe

July 22nd, 2009 at 9:57 am by David Farrar

The Herald report:

A Labour Party official is being investigated over immigration irregularities, just weeks after he helped Labour MP Su’a William Sio facilitate a meeting with Pacific Islanders duped in a fake-visa scam.

Immigration New Zealand confirmed it was investigating Semisi Faka’osikimuli, the secretary of the Labour Party’s Tongan branch, but would not disclose details or comment further while the investigation is going on.

There comes a point at which you wonder if certain problems are due to individuals, or are institutional. We have the current trial of Taito Philip Field. We have the unresolved issue of why Bill Liu was granted citizenship by Shane Jones despite official advice of his criminal record in China and offences in Australia. We have the Choudary immigration scam. There was also the dropping of list candidate Steven Ching over allegations of bribery. And now this case. Important to note only Choudary has been convicted of crimes.

The Herald understands the investigation centres around fake skilled employment offers to help immigrants get New Zealand work permits and residencies, but it is not clear how much money or how many people were involved.

No doubt details will emerge in time.

Mr Sio said he had known Mr Faka’osikimuli for two years and had worked with him in various capacities – most recently at a meeting with Pacific Islander victims of a fake residency stamps and visa scam on July 4, where Mr Faka’osikimuli chaired the Tongan group.

“He’s an active member of the Labour Party, and like many members of the local Pacific community, Semisi comes regularly to my electorate office in Mangere,” Mr Sio said.

The question is whether the alleged scam was being run out of Sio’s office, and whether that office was used for meetings. Regardless of the criminal allegations, commercial money making ventures should not be using MPs offices.

Han Jian, a former client of Mr Faka’osikimuli – whom he knows as James Semisi – said he decided to lodge a report to the police and Immigration, after receiving a letter from Immigration accusing him of fraud and submitting fake employment job offer documents, and for falsely claiming he had an offer of skilled employment from a company, TVP Computers.

“I was shocked, because I didn’t go for any interviews and didn’t even know I had any job offer, and I definitely did not submit anything to Immigration,” said Mr Han in Mandarin.

“After paying James about $14,000, all he said was to trust him and that is what I did. I thought with his involvement in the Labour Party, he will have good connections with Immigration.”

And this is what I mean about is there institutional issues. Regardless of the criminal issues against Field, it is very clear that his mate the Associate Minister was massively more likely to allow someone to gain residency here if Field acted on behalf of the migrant. There seem to be strong incentives that if Labour is in Government, you deal with people connected with Labour to gain residency or for Bill Liu citizenship.

Regardless of the change of Government, I would like to see much more transparency around MPs involvement in immigration issues. Maybe a quarterly report of the number of applications sponsored by MPs, and their sucess rates. If we had this years ago, it would have been obvious that Ministers were whitelighting almost all applications sponsored by Field.

According to Immigration documents, the application papers were submitted by Rosie Brown, JP, a community worker who works part-time out of Mr Sio’s electorate office.

Again, this may not be about individuals, but institutions.

Field wanted consistent stories

May 22nd, 2009 at 8:21 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Thai plasterer has told a jury she did not tell the truth to a government-ordered inquiry considering allegations against Taito Phillip Field.

Jinda Thavichit told the High Court in Auckland she did so because Field wanted their stories to the inquiry to be consistent and she wanted to help Field.

Of course he did.

Mrs Thaivichit, who had set up a Thai Labour Party branch in Mangere, had a reasonably close connection with Field, whom she and many other Thai nationals called “Big Dad”.

She made statements in a document in front of a lawyer that she had organised some painting and plastering work done by Thai workers on properties owned by Field, and that she had made payments to some of the Thai workers.

However, she told prosecutor David Johnstone today that she did not do the organising and that she did not make some of the payments which she said in the document that she had.

Mrs Thaivichit also said in the statement that Field let her stay at his property in Church St, Otahuhu because she couldn’t pay rent, when the truth was that she and her family were trying to avoid immigration authorities and Field wanted to help her.

She said she signed the document because Field asked her to, and “because I thought I would like to help Big Dad”.

Big Dad indeed. And how many other people joined Labour after Big Dad helped them out by getting his mate the Minister to waive the rules for them?

Field prosecution opens

April 23rd, 2009 at 8:33 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Former MP Taito Phillip Field knew it was illegal to accept payments for services and not only was he guilty of corruption, he tried to cover it up, the High Court at Auckland has been told.

Field, the MP for Mangere between 1993 and 2008 and an associate cabinet minister in his last term, has pleaded not guilty to 12 bribery and corruption charges and 23 charges of wilfully attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice.

Field’s trial involves seven properties, including his home in Samoa, in which he is accused of having mainly Thai plasterers, painters and tilers work for free in exchange for helping them with immigration problems.

I wonder how many of them also joined the Thai branch of the Labour Party which got established, and how much money they raised for Labour?

Mr Moore said that after media reported allegations against Field, prime minister Helen Clark set up an inquiry. Field publicly said at the time that he would co-operate.

“In reality Mr Field, far from co-operating with the inquiry, actually took deliberate steps to do the very opposite,” Mr Moore said. “Knowing that the police and other authorities would be watching the prime minister’s inquiry very closely, he arranged for false evidence to be placed before the inquiry.”

He got the Thai workers to lie and he created false invoices and receipts, Mr Moore said.

The alleged false invoices and receipts will be interesting.

Robertson to testify against Field

April 20th, 2009 at 1:04 pm by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

The trial is scheduled to last three months. Labour MP Ross Robertson has been revealed as a Member of Parliament who will give evidence against Mr Field.

That will be fascinating. Robertson has been MP for nearby Manukau East since 1996 and for Papatoetoe before that since 1987. He is respected by all sides in Parliament as an honest bloke who was a good Deputy Speaker.

What will he reveal about his former colleague in Labour?