23 Jul 2008

Peters to sue newspaper

8:38 am on 23 July 2008

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says he will file defamation proceedings against a Wellington newspaper over a report he received donations from a wealthy family prominent in the racing industry.

The Dominion Post reported on Tuesday Mr Peters received at least $150,000 between 1999 - 2003 from Vela family interests.

Mr Peters, who became racing minister in 2005, says whether he knew of donations would depend on his being told told by the party treasurer - and he cannot recall that happening.

He told Morning Report from Singapore that New Zealand First has abided by the laws on disclosure of donations and the party stands by its disclosures of donations.

The former treasurer of New Zealand First says she won't reveal sources of donations to the party.

Kay Urlich told Morning report that all the party's books have been audited and those accounts lodged with the Electoral Commission as per the law.

Peters does his job with integrity - PM

The Prime Minister says allegations about Mr Peters' handling of political donations do not stop him from performing his ministerial responsibilities.

The Dominion Post newspaper reported on Tuesday that the New Zealand First party accepted about $150,000 in anonymous donations from a prominent horse racing family.

The report followed an announcement by Mr Peters last Friday that his lawyer accepted $100,000 from a Monaco-based businessman, Owen Glenn, in 2006 towards the costs of an electoral petition.

Mr Peters had previously denied that his party received the money.

Mr Glenn was the Labour Party's largest donor at the 2005 election.

Helen Clark has faced questions about the Foreign Affairs and Racing Minister, including whether he was involved in negotiating tax breaks for the racing industry.

She says he does his job with integrity.

Mr Peters is attending an ASEAN conference in Singapore, and has dismissed the latest claims as unsubstantiated.