Foreign Minister Winston Peters has again declined to answer questions about what happened to a $25,000 donation given by Sir Robert Jones in 2005 for Mr Peters' NZ First Party.
Mr Peters was asked about the donation at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at Government House this afternoon.
He laughed the question off and told reporters that he couldn't wait to get back to Parliament next week where he was bound to come under fire from the opposition during question time.
Mr Peters said there were now three versions of "Bob Jones' story" in the media but he would not be addressing the questions in today's press conference.
He finished by turning to Dr Rice and telling her that he did not expect her to answer the question.
Serious credibility questions remain for Mr Peters after his failure to throw any light on what happened to Sir Robert's donation.
Yesterday, Sir Robert said he was dismayed at what Mr Peters had said about the donation and that he believed a police complaint would follow shortly - although he said he would not be making it.
He predicted that Mr Peters was "going to die on his own sword on this matter".
Mr Peters said the police would not be "so naive or uninformed or unprofessional" to investigate the matter.
At a press conference in Auckland yesterday, he made no attempt to allay Sir Robert's concerns that his donation - made through the Spencer Trust - didn't reach the party.
Mr Peters said any suggestion that the "money wandered off somewhere else" was not true.
But he referred all questions about how the money was spent to the trust, run by his brother, Whangarei lawyer Wayne Peters, who did not return calls.
Sir Robert last night stood by his assertion that Mr Peters asked for a donation for the 2005 election. He had asked for $50,000 but Sir Robert said he would give him only $25,000.
He also said that Roger McClay - a former adviser to Mr Peters - asked for the cheque to be made out to the Spencer Trust.
Wayne Peters had sent Sir Robert a receipt from the Spencer Trust.
Mr Peters protested his ignorance of the Spencer Trust yesterday and said Sir Robert was wrong.
"Bob's memory is failing him here."
Mr Peters said he had not solicited the donation, as Sir Robert claimed.
He said he had no involvement with the Spencer Trust, that he did not know what the trust had used the money for, and that he had not spoken to his brother about the trust.
Sir Robert told the Weekend Herald after Mr Peters' press conference: "It's sad and I deeply regret finding myself in this situation.
"He took the cheque away from me and it was meant for his party."
Mr Peters held a press conference on his return from Singapore in an attempt to put to rest a series of damaging stories on secret donations to his party that began a week ago when he admitted that expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn had paid $100,000 towards his legal bill for an electoral challenge after the 2005 election.
He said he learned of the payment only last Friday but was confident it would not attract tax liability or gift duty or any requirement to declare it as a pecuniary interest.
Mr Peters said he would meet Prime Minister Helen Clark next week to set out the facts.
He will see Helen Clark tonight at a dinner for US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He is to accompany Dr Rice to Samoa tomorrow for a meeting with Pacific Islands Forum foreign ministers.
Trusts have been used by many political parties as a conduit for anonymous donations.
But donations of more than $10,000 from trusts must be disclosed. No donation has been disclosed by New Zealand First since 2004.
Mr Peters said his party had complied with the law.
It appears that one of several things may have happened to the money.
It may have been spent on the 2005 election campaign and not properly declared, although it would be too late for the party to be prosecuted.
It may have been split into smaller undisclosable amounts, which is also unlawful.
Or it may not have been spent on the 2005 campaign - in which case Sir Robert has a legitimate complaint about it not being used for its intended purpose.
Asked if he could give a guarantee that donations to NZ First ended up with the party, Mr Peters said the question was repugnant.
LAW SOCIETY: WE CAN'T PROBE BARRISTER'S $100,000
The Law Society says it does not have the power to inspect the unorthodox way lawyer Brian Henry collected Winston Peters' legal fees.
The society said that as Mr Henry was a barrister - as opposed to a solicitor - its powers to investigate solicitors' trusts did not cover him.
Mr Henry put a $100,000 donation from Monaco-based billionaire Owen Glenn towards Mr Peters' legal bills - a move that National MP and former Law Society member Judith Collins said "does not happen in the real world".
"Not once did we [Auckland District Law Society and Law Society] ever hear anything about barristers ringing up and trying to solicit money for their clients' fees, any more than I have ever heard barristers ringing up soliciting money for their clients' grocery accounts, or the car loan," she told Parliament this week.
Mr Henry said he had done nothing wrong, and had been taught how to collect fees in that way by the National Party during Wyatt Creech's electoral petition in 1987.
"The Law Society is quite right - it doesn't have the power to investigate it because I have done nothing wrong.
"If all Judith Collins can say is it's unorthodox, well, funny, it wasn't unorthodox when National was doing it so why is it unorthodox now that Winston Peters is doing it? It is because she doesn't like it."
- Patrick Gower
Question: Where did the money go?
Peters: Bob Jones wrote a cheque to the Spencer Trust, that's where the money went.
Question: And what was it spent on?
Peters: Well you've got to ask the trust that.
Question: Isn't it in your interests to find out where that money went and what it was spent on?
Peters: It is in my interest to find out whether the law has been complied with.