In a statement yesterday the Office of RT Hon Winston Peters said that yesterday’s Dominion Post article is a smear campaign of unsubstantiated allegations.
Watching Brief would suggest to Winston that rather than talk about “smear campaigns” he talks about why after receiving the benefit of a $100,000 payment for his legal fees he did not declare this gift in Parliament’s Register of Pecuniary Interests for MPs and furthermore seek the permission of Prime Minister Clark to keep a gift worth more than $500.00
It is inconceivable that he did not know that his legal fees were reduced by $100,000 even though he may not have known the details of the donor. However Winston was required to name the donor if the donor’s name is reasonably ascertainable by the member. Watching Brief would suggest that asking your lawyer “who made the donation?” is a reasonable step to take in satisfying this requirement. Refer to the explanatory notes to The Register (see below)
The only other possibility is that Winston’s lawyer never billed Winston for legal services, in that case Winston would need to make a separate disclosure to Parliament’s Register of Pecuniary Interests for MPs (http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/DF02BF69-8E21-46F3-B399-DAB5EB6CA5BF/53301/registernotes2009.pdf) under the heading gifts as the explanatory notes to The Register state;
Gifts (Form 11)
7(1)(b) a description of each gift (including hospitality and donations in cash or kind
but excluding any donation made to cover expenses in an electoral campaign) received by the member that has an estimated market value in New Zealand of more than $500 and the name of the donor of each of those gifts (if known or reasonably ascertainable by the member) This also includes services provided at no charge, such as work on your home.