Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

John Banks remains in Parliament - for now

Act MP John Banks arrives at the Auckland High Court before being found guilty today. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Act MP John Banks arrives at the Auckland High Court before being found guilty today. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Act MP John Banks will remain in Parliament until it rises at the end of July despite being found guilty of filing a false election return today, Parliament's Speaker David Carter has confirmed.

Mr Banks was today found guilty of knowingly filing a false electoral return during his 2010 Auckland mayoralty bid, an offence severe enough to see him automatically ejected from Parliament.

Watch: John Banks found guilty

Video

However he must be convicted to trigger his removal.

Read more:
John Banks found guilty
John Armstrong: Banks will take verdict hard
Guilty verdict ends John Banks' 34-year career

Justice Edwin Wylie did not enter a conviction today and Mr Banks' lawyer David Jones QC said there would be an application for Banks to be discharged without conviction at his sentencing on August 1.

Senior Cabinet Minister Gerry Brownlee pointed out Parliament is scheduled to rise the day before on July 31 for the election in September.

Watch: Gerry Brownlee on the verdict

Video

Any questions about Mr Banks' status in Parliament until then needed to be directed to Speaker of the House David Carter.

"But as I understand it he is not convicted therefore can remain in Parliament and exercise his vote." A spokesman for Mr Carter said that until the August 1 hearing, "there is no change to Mr Banks status as a member of Parliament".

Mr Brownlee said the National Government faced no difficulties in continuing to Govern until then.

"We still have the support of the United Future Party and of course the Maori Party but I would stress that Mr Banks is still an elected Member of Parliament able to exercise his vote how he wishes according to the people who elected him."

Act Leader Jamie Whyte said today's verdict was "very disappointing" but the matter didn't have "material implications" for the party.

"John had already decided he wasn't going to stand again, we have a new candidate for Epsom and a new leader so it doesn't really change anything.

"It doesn't really involve Act to any great extent because it involves events that happened during his mayoral campaign." Mr Whyte said he was glad the trial was over "because it's been kind of hanging over us and we want to just concentrate on Act's policy agenda for the election not all these distractions".

Labour Leader David Cunliffe said Mr Banks' trial "sounded the death knell for Act" and Mr Key "must finally acknowledge what New Zealanders have known for two years -- his Government has been propped up by a corrupt politician".

"Act MP John Banks has now been found guilty in the High Court of filing a false electoral return. He was found guilty in the court of public opinion two years ago. John Key turned a blind eye to John Banks, refusing to read the Police report which ultimately led to this prosecution."

Green MP Gareth Hughes said it was "a bad day for John Banks but it's an even worse day for John Key".

"Here we see a Prime Minister who once said he would bring higher ministerial standards to Cabinet, we see a prime minister that's been propped by this discredited criminal MP, a prime minister who wouldn't read the court documents, a prime minister who trusted John Banks' word. It's John Key who's the real loser in this decision."

Read the full judgement here:

Banks timeline:

- December 2012: Pensioner Graeme McCready takes a private prosecution against Banks for knowingly filing a false electoral return.

- May 8, 2013: Banks pleads not guilty in Auckland District Court

- October 16, 2013: Banks is committed to trial by Judge Phil Gittos following an oral evidence hearing in the Auckland District Court. He resigns his ministerial portfolios the following day.

- October 25, 2013: Crown Law agrees to take over the prosecution from McCready.

- December 3, 2013: The High Court rejects an appeal by Banks' lawyers against the decision to commit him to trial.

- April 7: An application by Banks' team to have the prosecution thrown out for lack of evidence is dismissed by the High Court.

- May 19: Two-week trial begins at Auckland High Court, after a short delay when Banks is splattered with mud by a a protester outside court.

- Today: Justice Wylie delivers a guilty verdict at Auckland High Court.

- APNZ

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