3 Nov 2008

Peters denies pushing for Glenn appointment

7:55 am on 3 November 2008

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters denies he pressured his officials to appoint expatriate businessman Owen Glenn to the position of honorary consul in Monaco.

Official papers suggest Mr Peters, the suspended Foreign Affairs Minister, tried to have Mr Glenn appointed but was rebuffed by his own officials.

The New Zealand First leader was censured by Parliament in September for failing to disclose a gift of $100,000 from Mr Glenn towards his legal expenses.

Mr Peters told Morning Report that Mr Glenn nominated himself for the position, and he merely told officials to work more quickly on the issue.

"..what I wanted them to do was give me the answer, do we need a consul today, in 2007, in Monaco, and if so would he check this man out which my department in Paris from that embassy did."

He said the suggestion that Mr Glenn was interested in the Monaco role was first made in 2002, before he'd met him.

Mr Peters said once officials told him a Monaco consul wouldn't be economical, that was the end of the matter.

Owen Glenn

Mr Glenn said Prime Minister Helen Clark told him to back off inquiries about whether he was to be appointed.

He told Morning Report he first mentioned the idea of becoming honorary consul to Labour Party president Mike Williams more than 18 months ago.

He asked Mr Williams to pass on the offer to Prime Minister Helen Clark, and said the answer he got back was there were no objections, but it was under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Minister.

Mr Glenn said he met Mr Peters subsequently in Paris, who he said favoured the idea.

"Then when I met Helen in February at the opening of the business school, I had a long session with her and I went through all this with her and she was aware of it all.

"I asked her what do you want me to do now, and she said well just back off right now, its got entanglements to it, I think - in my words - and we don't want to have to deal with that at the moment."

He said the donation he made to New Zealand First had nothing to do with putting himself forward for the honorary consul position.

Helen Clark

Prime Minister Helen Clark said she cannot recall exactly when she found out that Mr Glenn was interested in the honorary consul position.

But she told reporters on Wednesday the issue and Mr Glenn's donation to Mr Peters' legal fund was raised when she met him in February this year.

"Once Mr Glenn said to me that he believed he'd made a donation I saw the consul-general position as not one that should be proceeded with.

"He's said on the record himself that I advised him not to pursue it, but I also advised the Foreign Ministry that if the matter arose again it needed to be referred to me."

National MP Gerry Brownlee said the Labour Party is as deeply involved in the Owen Glenn affair as the New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters.

Mr Brownlee said the Prime Minister Helen Clark also knew, and does not accept her explanation she only found out about the issue in February this year.


Documents issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs relate to April 2007 when officials say Mr Peters wanted to appoint an honorary consul to Monaco and put forward Mr Glenn's name.

They detail updates requested by Mr Peters, who at one stage noted his annoyance that the matter had not moved more quickly.

One official is quoted as saying the minister had another go about the matter, describing it as a raw nerve.

The papers also repeatedly say there was only a marginal business case for an honorary consul in Monaco, and at one stage recommended someone other than Mr Glenn for the position.