23 Apr 2009

What former MP told told inquiry at issue, trial told

5:33 pm on 23 April 2009

What former MP Taito Phillip Field provided to the Ingram inquiry is central to the obstruction of justice charges he is facing, the High Court in Auckland has been told.

Mr Field is accused of 23 charges of obstructing or perverting the course of justice and 12 charges of bribery and corruption as an MP. He denies all charges.

The Crown says that, while an MP, Mr Field illegally helped Thai people with immigration matters in return for work carried out his properties in New Zealand and in Samoa.

Prosecutor Simon Moore told the court that Mr Field knew what he was doing was wrong and says he lied and got others to lie at the Ingram inquiry, ordered in 2005.

The Crown said Mr Field arranged for false evidence, including falsified invoices, to be placed before the inquiry to try to derail any police investigation. The receipts were meant to show that the work was legitimate.

Mr Moore said it was what Mr Field gave the inquiry, which may or may not have lead to police charges, that is at issue.

He said it amounts to obstruction or perversion of justice if Mr Field deliberately placed false knowledge before the inquiry.

The defence says there is only a case in the courts because of its political dimension and his client's former position in public office.

Mr Field's lawyer, Paul Davison, QC, says the case has attracted an enormous amount of publicity and prejudicial comment that is based on assumption.

Mr Davison says at times, there has been a public witch-hunt directed at Mr Field. He told the court Mr Field maintains that he is innocent of each charge and denies acting to pervert the course of justice.

Trial loses another jury member

The trial continued on Thursday with just 11 jurors, after the judge discharged the jury foreman.

The foreman was one of seven new people selected after members of the original jury asked to be excused for a range of reasons after they were empanelled.

After lengthy discussions in chambers, Justice Hansen on Thursday told the jury that information had come to light overnight which had led to the discharge.

He emphasised the decision involved no reflection on the character of the foreman but declined to reveal the specific reasons for the discharge.

Justice Hansen told the court it was too late to empanel further people and made an order for the trial to continue with 11 jurors.

Neither Crown nor defence lawyers opposed the decision.