Police reject NZ First claim

By Patrick Gower

In a final act in the long-running Winston Peters political donations saga, police have rejected a complaint his New Zealand First party made about the Serious Fraud Office.

NZ First laid the complaint at the height of the controversy in September, alleging SFO director Grant Liddell broke the law when he handed over evidence to the privileges committee that was looking into a donation from expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Rob Pope wrote to Mr Liddell last week saying police had assessed the complaint and would not be pursuing it.

The evidence Mr Liddell handed over was uncovered in the SFO's separate investigation into the Spencer Trust donations and showed Mr Peters had misled the committee.

Mr Liddell's move earned him a sharp rebuke from Mr Peters.

It also drew criticism from then-Prime Minister Helen Clark.

NZ First president George Groombridge filed the complaint, referring to the section of the Serious Fraud Office Act, which said every member of the SFO "shall observe the strictest secrecy". A fine of up to $5000 was applicable for any breaches.

However the act also gave the director the discretion to disclose information "to any person who he is satisfied has a proper interest in receiving such information".

Mr Liddell told the committee at the time he did it as part of "my responsibility as head of a law enforcement agency where I have information that is relevant to possible breach of the laws of New Zealand".

The evidence showed Mr Peters had a $40,000 debt related to the Tauranga electoral petition against Bob Clarkson paid by the Spencer Trust, contradicting his claim that he paid it himself.

Neither Mr Peters nor Mr Groombridge could be reached for comment yesterday.

- NZ Herald

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