Pressure on John Banks to resign

By Derek Cheng

John Banks at the Auckland High Court. Photo / Dean Purcell
John Banks at the Auckland High Court. Photo / Dean Purcell

Act party leader Jamie Whyte has told disgraced Act MP John Banks to consider resigning before he is sentenced in August.

Banks was found guilty in the Auckland High Court this week for knowingly filing a false electoral return in relation to two $25,000 donations from Kim Dotcom for his 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign.

The court will decide in August whether to convict Banks, but opposition MPs have been calling for him to resign as an MP and his accompanying $162,200 annual salary.

In a statement today, Dr Whyte said Banks was legally entitled to remain in Parliament until the sentencing hearing, but he could also choose to step down before then.

"John and I discussed this option earlier today and we have agreed that he will take the weekend to consider his alternatives," Dr Whyte said.

The Herald on Sunday asked Whyte if he had asked Banks to step down but he said didn't want to expand on his statement.

"I made a committment to John I wouldn't expand on that press release and I want to honour that committment," Whyte said.

"Call me on Monday."

John Banks declined to comment but Whyte said the embattled MP was "not a broken man."

"He's a fighter and he is doing ok. I think you will see that fighting spirit down to the wire."

If convicted Banks, who is the MP for Epsom, will be automatically kicked out of Parliament, and MPs could be recalled to Parliament during the election campaign to vote on whether a byelection in Epsom should be held.

Read: Fran O'Sullivan: Act needs to move on and Banks needs to do the decent thing

Bryce Edwards: The John Banks guilty verdict

Banks is seeking a discharge without conviction. He could also appeal the case.
Meanwhile Epsom candidates fronted on TV3's The Nation this morning - except for National's candidate Paul Goldsmith, who excused himself by saying he was concentrating on campaigning for the party vote.

It is expected that National and Act will do a deal in the electorate - as they have in previous elections - to enhance the post-election prospect of a National-Act coalition.

Act's Epsom candidate David Seymour said there was currently no deal, though he conceded that Prime Minister John Key had been to a fundraising event for his campaign.

Video

Labour candidate Michael Wood brought along a bag of flour as a stand-in for Mr Goldsmith - and promised to use it every time Mr Goldsmith failed to front.

"The fact that Paul Goldsmith is not here today speaks for itself. It speaks to the fact that a dirty deal has been conjured up.

"There was a famous case in the early 1980s where Roy Hattersley the deputy leader of the British Labour Party refused to appear in interviews and refused to front up, and he was replaced by a bag of lard.

"Every time that Paul Goldsmith fails to front in this campaign, we are going to remind people about the dirty deal with this bag of wholemeal flour. And this is going to sit in place of Paul Goldsmith, who is not fronting and is facilitating a deal with the Act party to get them in when they don't deserve it."

- with additional reporting from The Herald on Sunday

- APNZ

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