The conduct of Taito Phillip Field

Okay it took far too many hours, but I have now extracted from the Ingram Inquiry report, all the sections which show Field as having demonstrated very poor (to put it mildly) behaviour. I defy anyone to state that his behaviour comes anywhere near the level needed to be an MP. Not only did he have numerous immigrants he had helped gained residency working massively under market rates (maybe under legal rates) on his properties, the evidence of Field and his close associates to the Ingram inquiry was on many occasions not credible and not believed by Ingram.

I won’t go as far as Justice Mahon, and call it an orchestrated litany of lies but as you read the report and see how witnesses refuse to testify, do testify and when their evidence is found to be false – clam up, how stories become synchronised – even Mr Ingram notes at one point the testimony was manufactured.

Some of the more damning facts revealed by the investigation:

1. Field denies mentioning the work needed on his house to Siriwan at his initial meeting, yet evidence contradicts this

2. Field claims he was trying to help Siriwan, because he had a NZ born child, but the child was now living overseas with his mother who had been deported and was ineligible to return for at least five years.

3. Siriwan was a thoroughly undeserving case, having claimed to only speak Pali (the equivalent of someone claiming they only speak Latin), and a fake refugee application which was deemed “abusive”. He had overstayed eight years, on his one week visitors permit

4. Damien O’Connor was told by Field that he wanted to reunite Siriwan with his child, and failed to mention the child had been living in Thailand since February 2005.

5. Field managed to get his colleague to grant a visa, despite an immigrant consultant earlier advising that Mr Siriwan’s case was hopeless.

6. The second meeting held to discuss Siriwan working on his Samoan residence was held at Field’s home, not his office (highly unusual)

7. The two air tickets for Samoa were booked by Field’s ministerial office!!!

8. At least one of the air tickets was funded by Field’s Qantas airpoints (which if earned on parliamentary business was a breach of rules). There is a dispute over who paid for Siriwan’s. If the inquiry had been given any powers it would be able to find out from the airline, which could prove or disprove of Field told the truth.

9. Field is criticized by Ingram for not informing O’Connor Siriwan was working on his property

10. Field is also criticized for allowing Siriwan to work on his property, regardless of disputed evidence about whether he arranged it or not.

11. And again Field is criticized for allowing Siriwan to work unpaid on his property

12. Four further Thai immigrants flew to Samoa in May and June 2005. Field denied knowing they were there together, but his wife says he actually met with them while there.

13. A fifth Thai was paid $5,200 by Field. His evidence to the inquiry was deemed not credible (ie he lied)

14. The other four Thais all refused to testify.

15. The inquiry lists numerous reasons why it believes they did work on Field’s house, but says it would be necessary for an authority with appropriate powers of investigation to inquire further.

16. With regard to painting of 51 Church Street, Field resorts to the can not recall defence, to the great frustration of Mr Ingram

17. Field then claimed a Ms Thaivichit had arranged the painting. She helped establish the Thai branch of the Party and was not seen as an independent witness

18. Thaivichit never mentioned the painting in question at her interview, and only after Field said she arranged it, did she mention it. Mr Ingram found her testimony unconvincing.

19. The testimony of the person whom Thaivichit claimed to have painted the house was found to be “rehearsed”

20. Field offered over time four different possibilities of who arranged the painting of the house – evidence called unsatisfactory.

21. Field even claims to be unsure as to whether he may have helped with the painting of 51 Church Street – a confusion Mr Ingram labels difficult to understand

22. A further painting of 51 Church Street was said by Field to be necessary due to damage and so that a bond can be repaid. The Department of Housing has no record of any bond for that property.

23. Despite Field denying he was responsible, the inquiry finds he did arrange for the second painting of Church Street

24. Field paid $1,500 to yet another immigrant he had helped for a job valued at four times that amount

25. Field denied knowing the painter, yet this is contradicted by his advocacy on his behalf to NZIS where he testified as to the genuineness of their marriage,

26. Further painting jobs were done below market rates by an immigrant he had helped.

27. Many of these jobs were paid as cash, arguably illegally

28. Ingram cast doubts of the authenticity of some of the documents “produced” by Field’s friend Thaivichit. Attempts to verify were refused.

29. In relation to a further house painting, Ingram once again finds it “difficult to accept” testimony from Field.

30. Once the allegations went public, Field had a meeting to try and identify the source of the information. Most of the people who attended that damage control meeting have refused to co-operate with the inquiry.

31. Field at first denied the meeting, and then said he can not recall specific discussions at it.

32. Ingram says due to the lies and refusal to co-operate he can’t verify what happened at that meeting, but says some other authority may be able to.

33. Information given to the SFO says that Field named the person he believed leaked the info at that meeting, and that he would have to move out of his house. The person has since moved out of his house.

34. Field purchased a house off constituents who came to him in his capacity as an MP

35. He claimed they asked him to buy it. They deny this.

36. He claimed after he purchased it, they stayed on and did not pay rent. The records show they did pay rent. Ingram says he does not understand Field’s difficulty in recalling this.

37. Field phoned up the father of the family he brought the house off and told him to tell his son to “back off”.

38. Field also said he was sending someone around with a form for the father to sign, saying Field had done nothing wrong. The father is elderly and with Parkinsons.

39. Field did send around 20 letters to local schools asking them to enrol children illegally, as they were not NZ residents.

40. Field’s wife was paid money for working in his office, through another staffer. Such payments broke parliamentary funding rules.

41. Field’s ministerial secretary sent an e-mail asking for Mrs Field to be paid under the table, and on the grounds that the other staffer was not fluent in English.

42. The electorate secretary emailed back saying that Ms Lilo (the worker) was very fluent, and will be the one doing all the work. The reply from Field’s ministerial secretary was “It’s as requested by MP”.

43. The electorate secretary refused to co-operate with the investigation.

44. David Benson-Pope as Whip “tidied” the matter up, and clarified that the Ministerial Secretary made a “mistake” in sending the emails.

Labour should be ashamed that they defend an MP who has acted in such a way. There can also be little doubt that if the inquiry had been given any powers at all, it would have been able to unravel the lies. They are rewarding behaviour that is in the interests of all MPs and NZers to condemn.

Quite frankly the testimony of Field and associates to the inquiry resembles a mafia cover-up – witnesses changing testimony, some witnesses disappearing, others being coached as to their testimony, fake documents produced etc etc. It will be an outrage if Field gets away with claiming he did nothing wrong and the report exonerates him.

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