Extraordinary new allegations have emerged about former Auckland mayor and MP John Banks during a High Court paternity claim. Today the court heard allegations that Banks tried to convince his then girlfriend to abort his biological son and told the young woman to pretend another man was the child's father. Senior reporter Lane Nichols reports.
John Banks urged the mother of his illegitimate child to have an abortion and then supplied drugs to make her miscarry and pressured her to take the necessary dose, a court has heard today.
The woman, who says in a sworn affidavit she became pregnant after having sex with Banks in a Hamilton motel, claims she refused to take the pills and the two-term Auckland mayor ended their relationship.
She also claims he encouraged her to form a new relationship then pretend her next sexual partner was the child's real father. She subsequently did - perpetrating the lie for three decades, she says in a sworn affidavit.
The events are alleged to have occurred in 1969. But they played out today before the High Court at Auckland, where Banks faced a paternity claim by Japan-based English language teacher Antony Shaw.
His lawyer Jacque Lethbridge told the court Banks was a high-profile public figure who had sought and attained public office.
She questioned his motivation for not engaging in the court process.
"These are serious matters and if he had an explanation for them he would, I'm sure, have put that before the court.
"He had an opportunity to do so, having had notice of these proceedings since April of this year, and of course he had notice since 1999."
Shaw, now 47, grew up believing his father was Chinese man Harry Wong, who was in a brief relationship with Pamela Mayes (nee Shaw) around the time she fell pregnant.
She told Wong he was Shaw's biological father and the Hamilton waiter paid her $5 a week in maintenance for the next 15 years, the court heard.
But Shaw says he was always confused by his lack of Chinese features and was bullied at school, including being called a "chink".
He only learned that Banks could be his paternal blood relative when his mother broke the news to him by letter in 1999.
"Shocked" and "devastated" by the revelations, he admits being surprised by the likeness when he eventually saw a photo of the conservative politician and former Cabinet minister.
"I did look like him."
However, repeated attempts to confront Banks "face to face" proved fruitless, court documents allege.
When Shaw finally tracked him down in an Auckland courthouse last year, Banks allegedly was reluctant to speak to him. An aide blocked Shaw's path, then told police Shaw was "mad and stalking John", it's alleged.
The Herald was in court for today's hearing and granted exclusive access to court documents relating to the paternity case, including sworn affidavits by Mayes and Shaw.
They allege Banks admitted to having fathered Shaw when he was a travelling salesman for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and that he wanted to meet his illegitimate adult son in 1999 and tell his own family.
But the documents claim he refused to undergo a DNA test on the advice of his QC lawyer, and wanted the situation kept "under wraps" due to his public profile and fears the story could be leaked to a woman's magazine or to broadcaster Paul Holmes.
Mayes decided to finally "tell the truth" after Shaw's wife gave birth to the couple's only son in 1999 - allegedly making Banks a grandfather - and after Banks made a moving valedictory speech in Parliament referring to his own "crushing heartache" of growing up without a father.
"The number one problem confronting New Zealand today is the breakdown of the home and the family," Banks said as he bowed out of Parliament.
"We need to exalt mothers and uphold fathers. Children need mothers and fathers. A welfare cheque is not a husband. The state is not a father."
However, after a meeting to discuss Banks acknowledging Shaw, it's claimed Banks phoned Mayes and "went off his tree". He allegedly warned her not to take the matter any further, accused her of wanting money, labelled her mentally unwell and threatened to sue her, an affidavit says.
Banks has refused to engage with the court proceedings or respond to repeated requests for comment on the case.
He made no appearance at today's hearing and Justice Patricia Courtney reserved her decision on the paternity claim.
After today's hearing Shaw said through his lawyer that he was "extremely disappointed that he has had to endure an extremely stressful, costly and public court action that could have been avoided".
Lethbridge, said her client and his family had tried to speak to Banks on a number of occasions.
"My client hopes justice prevails," she said.
The court heard how Mayes' relationship with her son was ultimately destroyed by the revelations.
Shaw felt betrayed and let down by his mother's dishonesty and blamed her for Banks' refusal to meet with him, her affidavit says.
"Antony is unhappy with the way I handled things at keeping the secret of the identity of his father from him for so long. He blames me for John's refusal to see him and consequently we have not spoken since he went back to Japan in 2000.
"This is very sad for me because I have essentially lost the relationship with my son because I was trying to ensure he knew who his father was."
The court heard that Mayes met Banks at a party in Hamilton when she was a 19-year-old nurse at Waikato Hospital. The pair dated when Banks would visit the Garden City with work. He'd pick her up from her family home before taking her out.
She believed Shaw was conceived in July 1969 at a motel opposite Te Rapa racecourse.
"John had a room in the accommodation at the back which is where we had sexual intercourse and where I believe conception occurred, her affidavit says.
"John's response to the news that I was pregnant was to encourage me to abort the pregnancy. He arranged for his friend [X] who worked for another pharmaceutical company ... to give me quinine tablets in the hope this would cause me to miscarry. Both [X] and John were there when they told me how many of the tablets to take. John was insistent that I take the pills.
"I was scared and did not want to take the pills. John was confident and difficult to stand up to and really put pressure on me to take the pills, but I just could not do it so I refused.
"After refusing to take the pills John did not want to know me. John told me to find someone else and tell them it was their baby."
Mayes said in her affidavit that she was ashamed to be pregnant while unmarried and felt she had few options.
"Given John had made it clear that he would have nothing to do with me and the baby I could not see much choice other than to say the baby was someone else's.
"I told my family and friends that Harry was the father which was quite difficult given, once Antony was born, he had no Chinese features and was actually very like John to look at.
"This is something that I regret doing. I wish I had been brave enough to tell the truth earlier."
Lethbridge told the court the stakes were high for Mayes when she decided to "come clean" about the identity of Shaw's real father.
"Telling Antony, telling her husband, telling her family and Mr Wong. This is not something you would do unless you were serious about it, because the ramifications were huge. And the ramification for Mrs Mayes is she has lost the relationship with her son."
Lethbridge stressed that societal attitudes at the time were very different to today, particularly in relation to unmarried mothers, and that Mayes felt she had no choice but to pretend Wong was the father.
However, Mayes left the father's details blank on Shaw's birth certificate, saying she did not want to deliberately enter false details naming Wong as the father on a legal document.
Before the birth she was moved to a home for unmarried mothers in Auckland, which is where Shaw was born. She had intended to give him up for adoption but decided to keep him after no home could be found for the baby.
The court heard that her relationship with Banks was allegedly rekindled when Shaw was about 10 months old when Banks called at Mayes' Epsom flat.
She claims Banks was living with another woman but would visit her and Shaw until the little boy was about three.
The last time Shaw would see his father was at Becky Thatchers coffee house on Karangahape Rd in 1973, when he bought Shaw a Mickey Mouse money box for his birthday, she says.
"It was during this period that John acknowledged he was Antony's father."
Anthony Shaw was 29 and living in Japan with his wife Noriko and baby son Kent when his mother dropped the bombshell admission in 1999.
"I was totally shocked by what my mother told me because it meant for the last 29 years of my life I had grown up believing Harry was my father and that I was half Chinese," his affidavit says.
"To now learn someone quite different was likely my father was earth shattering news.
"Pamela told me that the reason she had kept the truth from me for all those years was because she was ashamed and because she had taken child support of $5 a week from Harry for 15 years."
His mother told him Banks had been "receptive to the idea" of recognising his paternity during a meeting with her old flame at St Lukes Mall in November 1999 - a month or so after his valedictory speech - but "got cold feet".
"Learning of this news was obviously devastating for me and while it seemed to fit, I wanted to confirm the position with John. As a result in 2000 I came home from Japan with my wife and son to try and arrange a meeting with John to talk to him about the issue."
In April of that year he visited Banks' workplace at Radio Pacific and then at his home on Paritai Dr in Orakei where he spoke briefly to Amanda outside.
She claimed Banks was not home and "thought the whole thing was a hoax".
"Amanda said John was a very influential man and a lot of women from his past had come after him over the years. She also said that I did not look like John.
"Amanda then went on to say that their hearts went out to me because I was caught in the middle. I thanked her for her time and left."
Shaw says he then wrote a letter to Banks but never received a response.
He returned to Japan "distraught". His son was diagnosed with autism the next year.
"Confused" and unable to raise the $40,000 in legal fees needed to take a paternity case against Banks, Shaw instead devoted himself to his son, worked hard and saved money.
"The failed attempts to meet John left me really devastated. I became really angry with my mother for her dishonesty and basically at that time became completely estranged from her. I have hardly had anything to do with Pamela since that time."
Shaw returned to New Zealand for a holiday last year and finally met Banks "for the first time as an adult" at Auckland District Court after Banks was sworn in as a JP, his affidavit says.
"I approached John and congratulated him on becoming a JP immediately after he had taken the oath. I then said, 'You probably don't remember me, I'm Antony'. John gave me a blank look and I added, 'I've come all the way from Japan to see you today'.
"At this time John's face dropped. I patted him softly on the back and said, 'Hopefully the two of us can talk after all of this is over'. John did not respond to this."
Shaw says he waited outside the courtroom and asked Banks if he could have a couple of minutes when he emerged.
An aide of Banks replied, "that John did not want to talk to me and went on to say that I was unsound and they didn't want a confrontation".
When Shaw said he would contact a paternity lawyer, the aide shouted: "Get your lawyer to send a letter to John's lawyer," the court was told.
"I continued to leave the court a couple of steps behind [the aide] and then he turned around, abused me and told the policeman and security guard near the entrance that I was mad and stalking John."
That was the last time Shaw saw Banks.
His affidavit says he is now seeking a declaration of paternity against the man he believes is his birth father.
"My motivation for making this application is driven purely by a desire to have confirmation of where I am from. What happened at the time of conception and that my mother felt compelled to hide the fact John was my true birth father is not something I am responsible for.
"I believe that I have the right to know who my father is and to be given the dignity of having that recorded on my birth certificate so my son and any children he has will know where they are from."