John Weekes

John Weekes is an NZME. News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Case against PM and cop thrown out

McCready presented 16 charging documents to Auckland District Court but Judge Collins said there was nowhere near enough evidence to proceed. Photo / NZ Herald
McCready presented 16 charging documents to Auckland District Court but Judge Collins said there was nowhere near enough evidence to proceed. Photo / NZ Herald

An attempt to prosecute the Prime Minister and a top policeman over the mayoral donations fiasco has been thrown out after a judge ruled a Leonardo DiCaprio movie wasn't compelling evidence.

Private prosecutor Graham McCready, who last month claimed the scalp of former Auckland mayor and ex-police minister John Banks, has promised to fight the new decision from Judge Russell Collins, which was released to the Herald on Sunday.

McCready successfully prosecuted Banks for filing a false electoral return during the 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign. That case related to Banks' receipt of two $25,000 donations from controversial internet mogul Kim Dotcom.

Banks was convicted, and sentenced for falsely filing an electoral but plans to appeal.

McCready wanted to prosecute Key and police inspector Mark Benefield. He presented 16 charging documents to Auckland District Court but Judge Collins said there was nowhere near enough evidence to proceed.

Among material presented was a DVD copy of The Wolf of Wall Street. Retired accountant McCready claimed the film showcased the "lawless lifestyle of currency traders such as John Key where there are no rules, no respect for regulations and deals are made over the phone".

The film wasn't good enough to win an Oscar — and Judge Collins took a similar view to those who adjudicated this year's Academy Awards.

"Annexing a copy of the movie Wolf of Wall Street falls considerably short of the sort of evidence required to subject any New Zealander to the process of the criminal justice system," Judge Collins stated in his decision.

The judge said no evidence was presented to support claims of a "criminal conspiracy" between Benefield, Key and Banks.

Although Judge Collins gave Key the all-clear, he said there was "evidence", if only in hearsay form, that Benefield recommended to superiors Banks not be prosecuted. "However, there is no evidence to support the proposition this was improperly motivated as opposed to being an error of judgement," he added.

Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said he wasn't surprised by the outcome. "As I said at the time this matter arose, I have faith in the integrity of the investigation carried out and the staff involved in it and no events or developments since lead me to change that view."

John Banks did not return calls and the Prime Minister also declined to comment on Judge Collins' decision.

- Herald on Sunday

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