25 Oct 2008

Result of final inquiry into NZ First next week

11:54 am on 25 October 2008

Police have confirmed the inquiry into donations to the New Zealand First Party will be completed next week.

The Electoral Commission on Thursday 23 October cleared the party's secretary of any offence in relation to the 2007 return of donations, which it has since updated to include an $80,000 donation from the Spencer Trust.

In a summary of a withheld decision, the commission said donations made to the party in 2005 and 2006 were also not included in the party's returns and these will also have to be updated.

In its statement on Thursday, the Electoral Commission issued a summary but said it was withholding the decision for now to avoid potential prejudice to a continuing police investigation.

Police National Headquarters said on Friday the commission's findings are "relevant to its inquiry", which will be completed next week.

The investigation is the last of three inquires into donations to Mr Peters legal costs, or to his party.

On 10 October, the Serious Fraud Office cleared the party of any fraud charges relating to donations channelled through the Spencer Trust.

On 22 September, Parliament's Privileges Committee recommended that Mr Peters be censured for knowingly providing false or misleading information on a return of pecuniary interests.

The following day Parliament voted to censure the New Zealand First leader over the $100,000 donation from expatriate businessman Owen Glenn.

Hide adamant despite ruling

ACT leader Rodney Hide is making no concession despite the commission's findings, that cleared New Zealand First and instead put ACT in the firing line.

In a separate ruling on 23 October the commission found ACT should have disclosed it was provided with rent-free office space by businessman Sir Robert Jones for a number of years before 2005.

Mr Hide told Nine to Noon the ruling relates to one of the party's MPs who had secured an office.

"I understand they were advised that they didn't need to declare it, it wasn't through the party, and since they they've decided that we should have declared it so we'll put out a return accordingly."

He is maintaining his claims against New Zealand First, and the party's leader Winston Peters.

Mr Peters also said he was advised a return did not need to be filed.

He described Mr Hide's continued allegations as the sounds of a drowning man.

Campaigning

Winston Peters spent the day on the remote East Coast of the North Island, dropping in on communities such as Te Kaha and Te Araroa, to woo Maori voters.