Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Craig's $22k Christmas gift

Ex-Conservative Party leader’s donation revealed as he is cleared of electoral misspending.
Colin Craig. Photo / Dean Purcell
Colin Craig. Photo / Dean Purcell

Colin Craig gave a generous Christmas donation to the Conservative Party, despite stepping down as its leader.

The party declared a $22,000 donation from Mr Craig on December 22, on top of earlier donations of $3000, $6000 and $8300 last year.

Political parties must declare individual or separate donations which amount to more than $30,000 within a 12-month period.

The latest donations come despite Mr Craig taking a back seat in the party's operations. He stepped down as leader in June after admitting to inappropriate conduct with a former staff member.

"Obviously I'm out for the moment ... but I will continue to be supportive of the party and I will continue to give to the party," Mr Craig said yesterday.

Funding was needed to cover staff costs and a large leaflet drop last year, he said.

Mr Craig has spent close to $3 million of his personal income on the party over two elections, without winning a seat in Parliament.

The party's board announced in November that it was seeking a new leader.

Mr Craig said the donations were not an attempt to maintain control of the party or influence its leadership decisions.

He has ruled himself out of contention until he resolved two legal cases he was involved in - a defamation case and an allegation that he broke electoral laws ahead of the general election in 2014.

Police confirmed yesterday that Mr Craig had been cleared of the allegations of electoral misspending.

Former Conservative Party board member John Stringer laid a criminal complaint against him in August, claiming he had failed to declare the cost of some advertising banners and photography during the election campaign and had manipulated some declarations to make sure spending limits were not breached.

"After full consideration of all the relevant information, police have determined that there is no evidence of criminal offending in relation to these matters," a police spokeswoman said. Police also cleared Mr Craig of a separate complaint from Mr Stringer of interfering with witnesses.

Mr Stringer said he was "very disappointed" with the police findings but he would be taking no further action.

Mr Craig said the police's dismissal of the complaint had removed the main obstacle to him returning to the leadership.

- NZ Herald

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