I couldn't ignore truth on Peters - trainer

By Patrick Gower, Audrey Young

Champion horse trainer Paul Moroney says he approached Owen Glenn with his recollection of Winston Peters thanking him for the $100,000 donation because "I cannot walk away from the truth".

Mr Moroney said when the story broke and he saw Mr Peters' continued denials he realised he had crucial knowledge. "I said to people: 'I am staggered by what's happening here'."

He then made a "personal decision" to tell Mr Glenn what he knew knowing he was coming to New Zealand to appear before Parliament's privileges committee - but never spoke to him directly, dealing only briefly with an assistant.

Mr Moroney swore an affidavit of his recollections of Mr Peters thanking Mr Glenn as they sat together at the Karaka yearly sales in 2006.

Mr Glenn provided it to the committee as corroborating evidence on Tuesday.

Mr Moroney said he expected a backlash from the racing community as Mr Peters was a popular minister.

"This is not about the racing industry. This is about the truth. And I cannot walk away from the truth."

Mr Peters yesterday produced a statement from Vela group director Donald McIllraith that said Mr Moroney's evidence was "not accurate" and gave a version of the lunch in the Pencarrow Stud tent that did not have them sitting together.

Mr Moroney said Mr McIllraith's statement actually verified "we were all in the same place at the same time".

Mr Moroney, who works with Mr Glenn's horses, said Mr McIllraith had failed to take into account what happened when Mr Peters first arrived, and elaborated on his affidavit.

"Mr Peters came over ... sat down for five to 10 minutes, had a glass of wine, and the conversation with him and Owen took place with Owen sitting right next to them."

Mr Moroney said he realised he had put his sister, Labour MP Sue Moroney, in an "awkward position". He had informed her of his knowledge about three months ago without telling her the full story.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Helen Clark yesterday defended her decision not to fire Mr Peters despite his failure to counter hard evidence suggesting he knew about the $100,000 donation from the start.

She will wait at least until next Tuesday, when Mr Peters' lawyer, Brian Henry, has been invited to reappear at the privileges committee. It is not yet known if he will agree to.

Helen Clark pulled back on the advice of Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen, who is clearly still smarting from Mr Glenn's attacks on the Labour Party on Wednesday.

He called Dr Cullen "a bully", Helen Clark "self-serving" and party president Mike Williams "a liar".

Mr Glenn also said on Close Up on Wednesday that he paid Mr Williams money to buy KFC for Pacific Island voters in Manurewa.

Three conflicting points of evidence in Owen Glenn's $100,000 donation to Tauranga electoral petition:

1: December 5 contact - when an initial approach for a donation was made

Owen Glenn says:

The call came from Winston Peters. His assistant Laura Ede produced an email on December 5 to Labour president Mike Williams saying: "Owen wanted me to pop a quick email through - Winston has left a message on his answer machine today and Owen is due to call him back ... " Glenn says he spoke to Peters in the day or two after that, and that was when funding the Tauranga petition was raised, but he has no record of the call.

Winston Peters says:

He has no record of a call from his office or cellphone [he didn't mention his home phones]. But he believes that lawyer Brian Henry made the call to solicit funds for electoral petition.

2: December 14 contact

Glenn says:

Following brunch with Mike Williams in Sydney and an okay from him that a donation to Peters would not be unhelpful to Labour, Glenn rang Peters to say he would fund the Tauranga petition. Increased $70,000 sought to $100,000. Has phone record. Peters said his lawyer would send the account details and asked Glenn to keep it confidential. Lawyer Brian Henry sent an email 7 minutes after call with bank account details. Glenn has email record.

Peters says:

Money was not discussed in the call. Topics included Glenn's desire to become roving ambassador for diplomatic passport to get through airports quickly; the honorary consular post in Monaco, the Melbourne Cup. Concedes Glenn may have asked for Henry's details but would not have asked why. Conceded he may have rung Henry straight after Glenn call.

3: Karaka sales, January 31, 2006

Glenn says:

At a lunch for six at the Karaka sales in January 2006 he sat with Peters and asked if he had got the money all right. Peters had said "Yes, thank you very much. It was very helpful." Glenn's trainer Paul Moroney who was at the lunch has sworn an affidavit saying he heard the conversation.

Peters says:

He did not sit with Glenn, there were 14 people at the table and he would have sent him a thank you letter much earlier if he had known about the money. Tabled affidavit in Parliament from Donald McIlraith, a Vela company director, who says they did not lunch at the same table but did see Peters and Glenn conversing.

- NZ Herald

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