Police plan to charge Field with 14 counts of bribery

The Police have confirmed that they intend to charge former Minister and MP Taito Phillip Field with 14 charges of bribery, relating to actions he took as a Labour MP.

They need the permission of the High Court to lay the charges under Section 103 of the Crimes Act. While I won’t make any prediction as to the outcome of any trial, I suspect it is highly unlikely the Police will not gain the Court’s permission to proceed to trial.

This is a very black day in the history of the NZ Parliament. Donna Awatere-Huata was enough of a black mark for facing fraud charges while an MP, but at least her fraudulant activities were primarily in her private capacity. Field is being charged over actions he took in his role as an MP. This is a new low.

Field must of course have his day in court, before one can proclaim guilt or innocence. But the charges confirm how serious this is and we already know his actions were grossly unethical, and that he lied to the Ingram Inquiry.

At this point in time, we should remind ourselves oh what our Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister said in defence of Mr Field.

On the 14th of September, in an attempt to bury the issue before the election, Clark said:

“I think the only thing he is probably guilty of is trying to be helpful to someone.”

Even worse is Michael Cullen. For at least Clark made her defence before the Ingram Report. But here is what Dr Cullen said *after* the Ingram Report came out, which was damning of Field:

So Mr Field has some matters to work through with the Labour leadership and the Labour whips. But he works incredibly hard on behalf of his constituents. He has people coming to him from all over Auckland for assistance, not just in immigration cases but in many other cases. 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.

And of course as we all know, Clark set up the Ingram Inquiry with such a narrow terms of reference and such incredibly limited powers, that it was designed to fail.

And finally remember that Field was kicked out of the Labour Party not because he had shamed the NZ Parliament, not because he exploited vulnerable workers, not because he lied to the Ingram Inquiry, not because he behaved disgracefully, and not because he may be corrupt. He was kicked out for musing openly on the possibility of not standing for Labour.

Clark and Cullen tolerated the stench of corruption because they needed his vote. If Field is found guilty, it will be a shared verdict.

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