Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Andrew Little on John Shewan: I will not apologise

Andrew Little said former PwC chairman John Shewan never sought an apology, only a correction to statements he made. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Andrew Little said former PwC chairman John Shewan never sought an apology, only a correction to statements he made. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Labour leader Andrew Little says he will not apologise to tax expert John Shewan for making false claims about him.

Mr Little said this morning that the former PwC chairman never sought an apology, only a correction to statements the Labour leader made following the release of the Panama Papers.

In April, Mr Little questioned the choice of Mr Shewan to lead an inquiry into the disclosure rules for foreign trusts based in New Zealand.

John Shewan. Photo / Supplied
John Shewan. Photo / Supplied

He pointed out that Mr Shewan had effectively advised the Bahamas - a country known for tax haven activity - on how to protect its offshore financial services industry and maintain its haven status.

However, he later withdrew those comments after Mr Shewan took offence and said he was incorrect.

Following the release of Mr Shewan's inquiry yesterday, Mr Little said he did not need to go further.

"He explicitly said I don't need you to apologise, I want a correction of a statement, and that's what I've done," he told reporters this morning.

Mr Little defended the timing of his press release in which he backed away from his original comments, which was issued on a Saturday evening, an hour before an All Blacks test.

The alternative was to issue it during the fallout from the Orlando killings, he said.

Mr Little said the Shewan Inquiry's conclusions were in direct contradiction to the assurances the Government had given about foreign trusts two months ago.

It recommends a significant expansion of disclosure rules, saying that the current regime is "not fit for purpose".

If Mr Shewan's recommendations are adopted, it is estimated that the number of foreign trusts based in New Zealand will halve.

Prime Minister John Key said this morning that he expected "some reduction" in the number of trusts.

"I've always thought there's a legitimate place for foreign trusts. And it's obviously important that we preserve our reputation.

"Insomuch that it allows the industry to continue, but gives everyone comfort and assurance ... then it's a good thing"

- NZ Herald

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