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Report: Peters censured for 'false, misleading' information

The privileges committee has recommended Winston Peters be censured for "knowingly providing false or misleading information on a return of pecuniary interests".

The privileges committee's report, which was released this evening, looked into NZ First's handling of Owen Glenn's $100,000 donation to Winston Peters' legal fund in 2005.

The committee has been assessing whether Mr Peters should have declared the donation as a gift.

In its report the committee said it found no evidence that Mr Peters made an "honest attempt" to find out whether any donations had been received before making his return in February 2006, despite his knowledge of his arrangement with Mr Henry (Peters' lawyer Brian Henry) and the likelihood of donations being received towards his costs.

The report recommended that, within seven days of the House ordering him to do so, Peters be ordered to file amended returns for 2006, 2007 and 2008 to include "all debts, gifts and payments in kind that he has not previously registered".

The report went on to say that the majority of committee members believed Mr Peters "had some knowledge of the $100,000 donation".

The report said a majority of committee members believed Mr Peters had committed "a contempt".

The committee was split along party lines and Labour MPs disagreed with the majority decision.

Mr Peters said in a statement this evening that those who supported the majority decision had decided he was guilty before the hearings began.

Parliament will debate the report tomorrow and vote on whether its recommendation should be adopted.

Central to the question of whether Mr Peters should have declared Mr Glenn's donation as a gift was the question of whether Mr Peters knew about the 2005 donation. He has always maintained he didn't until this year.

Email and phone records presented by Mr Glenn strongly suggested Mr Peters discussed the donation with Mr Glenn in 2005.

The committee's report is expected to be debated in Parliament tomorrow afternoon and if it contains recommendations these will be voted on in the House.

Meanwhile, the Serious Fraud Office's decision to present evidence to the committee could lead to a police complaint this week.

The Herald understands Mr Peters' lawyer Peter Williams, QC, is considering laying a complaint over what NZ First views as the breaching of section 39 of the Serious Fraud Act.

It requires the Serious Fraud Office to observe secrecy in relation to any information that is protected under any act, except the Inland Revenue Department Act.

- NZ HERALD STAFF, NZPA

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