Supporters welcome police investigation into Field

By Grant Fleming, Maggie Tait

Taito Phillip Field's supporters have welcomed a police investigation into allegations against him, saying it will clear his name, but National says the Labour MP should resign.

Police launched the inquiry today after considering allegations against Mr Field centred on claims he benfitted from helping people with immigration applications to New Zealand.

Mangere electorate office vice chairman Selio Solomon said Mr Field would be exonerated by the inquiry.

"Finally it will go through the process and it'll actually prove that he's done nothing wrong," Mr Solomon said.

"From my perspective - and probably the community's perspective - it will give people peace of mind I welcome it."

Mr Field yesterday said he would continue as the Labour MP for Mangere and that while he had made mistakes he had not committed any crime.

"I would be happy for the police to investigate any such allegations," he said.

The Labour Party placed Mr Field on paid leave after news of the investigation.

Mr Solomon was confident Mr Field would be cleared.

"Listening to him last night he's pretty confident, and we are pretty confident as well, that with due process it will clear him."

Mr Field has been under pressure since the allegations were made against him a year ago.

That pressure has built since Noel Ingram QC's report into those allegations was released in July.

Mr Field's lawyer, Satiu Simativa Perese, said Mr Field was happy for the inquiry to go ahead.

Mr Perese hoped the investigation would end "all the innuendo and bashing" that was going on in the media by his political opponents.

'Better than nothing'

National leader Don Brash said the police investigation was a vote of no confidence in the limited powers of the Ingram inquiry and the government's handling of the case.

He said the police inquiry was "better than nothing" but believed Mr Field should have left after the Ingram report.

"I think there are two different questions. Is he guilty of criminal behaviour? The police are going to investigate that.

"Short of being criminal [the second] question is his behaviour consistent with that of a member of Parliament?

"And it's pretty clear - from the matters that are acknowledged in the Ingram report and the additional information that came out at the weekend - that he's been behaving in ways that are not really appropriate at all for a Minister of Parliament and in those circumstances he should be resigning."

Dr Brash said if he ever found himself in that position he would quit.

"It's not a question of putting the party before personal position it's a question of the reputation of parliament - that's what is at stake at this point and that's been our view consistently."

Meanwhile, Mr Perese said he did not think Mr Field had been treated fairly and police did not tell his client of their investigation - he only became aware of it after media reports.

Mr Perese said Mr Field made an agreement yesterday with Prime Minister Helen Clark's office that he would step aside if there was a police inquiry.

At that stage Mr Field had no knowledge a police investigation was pending.

Mr Perese said his understanding of the police investigation was that it would include an "overall review" of Dr Ingram's report.

It would seek to interview some of those people who refused to be interviewed by Dr Ingram.

It would also look at fresh allegations raised by TVNZ's Sunday programme, that Mr Field hid some money given to him by a constituent and altered a birth certificate.

Mr Perese said it was important to note that the Ingram report had not found him to be dishonest or corrupt, so he was confident his client would be exonerated.

- NZPA

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