New Zealand First list MP Brendan Horan's political career is hanging in the balance after allegations by his brother that money is missing from his late mother's bank account.
The former TVNZ weatherman and surf lifesaver yesterday dismissed claims he had anything to do with the missing money as "fantasy" - but NZ First leader Winston Peters refused to back his MP until he had the facts.
Mr Horan's mother Olwen Horan, 87, of Mt Maunganui, died in early August about three months after signing a codicil to her will after she became concerned that money was missing from her accounts.
Mr Horan's brother, Mana Ormsby, said in an interview with Newstalk ZB that the statements showed a large number of withdrawals from TABs and from ATM machines near Mr Horan's office in Mt Maunganui, Auckland and Hamilton. They also showed numerous payments at takeaways and video shops.
Mr Ormsby's initial investigation suggested about $85,000 was missing from his mother's accounts.
John Buckthought, the executor of the will, yesterday declined to comment other than to confirm forensic accountants were examining Olwen Horan's estate and that she had won about $1 million in an Australian lottery some years ago.
The lawyer handling Mrs Horan's estate, Mark Hornabrook, also refused to comment.
Mr Ormsby said he would lay complaints with the police when the forensic accountants had completed their work.
He had spoken to Mr Peters but was told the party leader could not do anything "because he had not seen the bank statements".
Mr Horan told the Herald the "heartbreaking" allegations were a family matter, and his mother would be "turning in her grave" if she knew what had happened after her death.
"My mother would be so ashamed of what has transpired and I'm not prepared to bring any of my family into this.
"I've done nothing wrong and I'd rather just keep it within the family, and people will see in the fullness of time that this is just a fantasy and the allegations are demonstrably false."
Mr Peters said he had repeatedly requested facts and evidence about the allegations but had not been provided with any to date.
He said Mr Horan had been told to sort the matter out with his family.
Asked whether he was satisfied Mr Horan was an honest man, Mr Peters said it was "impossible to comment without information".
"'No lawyer will comment until he's got the facts, and I haven't got the facts