National leader Bill English claims the police report into "Paintergate" shows Prime Minister Helen Clark lied to the police. This is a summary of what the report said.

The report says that in 1997 Save Animals from Exploitation (Safe) decided to hold a celebrity auction. In 1998 a canvas, with a request for a painting, was sent to Helen Clark's office. It was returned with a note which said "no time".

But staff member Dawn Bush arranged for Paraparaumu artist Lauren Fouhy to paint it on Clark's behalf.

Mrs Fouhy says she was instructed to make it look amateurish.


Mrs Bush says she took the painting to Helen Clark's office and asked her to sign it. Helen Clark, then Leader of the Opposition, signed "Helen Clark" on the back of the painting with a ballpoint pen.

"Miss Clark states that she does not recall signing the painting but acknowledges that she did so. She has stated that she has no independent recollection of any of the events surrounding this painting," the report says.

Safe auctioned the painting on March 5, 1999, as an original item painted by Helen Clark. Henricus van Dijk bought it for $1000. The proceeds went to Safe.

Last April, the Sunday Star-Times revealed that Helen Clark had not painted the picture. Soon after the story appeared, Helen Clark sent Mr van Dijk a cheque for $1000. Mr van Dijk arranged to auction the painting through Webb's Gallery in Auckland. There was no interest expressed before the auction except one offer of $5000, plus $500 towards advertising expenses, from Simon Mitchell, a lawyer who had once worked in Helen Clark's electorate office.

Mr van Dijk accepted the offer, Mr Mitchell bought the painting and the proceeds again went to Safe.

"On 5 May 2002 Mr Mitchell gave the painting as a gift to Miss Clark's Auckland executive assistant, Mrs Joan Caulfield. He had previously discussed the purchase with Mrs Caulfield. Mrs Caulfield sought advice from Miss Clark as to what she might do with the painting. Mrs Caulfield states she was told to do with it as she liked. Miss Clark has not commented on this matter in her statement to police.

"Mrs Caulfield, acting on her own initiative, destroyed the painting with the assistance of her husband. The painting was partially destroyed on 5 May 2002. The destruction was completed the following morning when the canvas was burned."


"The central issue is considered to be, does the signature added to the painting or drawing by Miss Clark make the item a false document?"

The report concludes that it does. "There is a general understanding that the person who signs a painting or drawing is the author of the painting or drawing ...

"By signing the painting completed without her authority Miss Clark creates a document.

"Through the signature, the document falsely claims to have been entirely completed by her. The document therefore tells a lie about itself and is a false document ... "

Helen Clark says she did not recognise that signing the painting had a different legal effect to signing other items and that, had she known, she would not have signed it.

"Despite the intention to assist a charity, and the explanation that those involved did not recognise the effect of their actions, it is considered that those actions amount to forgery."

The report says there was widespread media coverage of the painting's sale.

"Miss Clark states that she has no recollection of any media reports about this matter. She states that such reports would not normally have been brought to her attention by way of media summaries prepared by her staff at that time ...

"It is however considered unlikely that Miss Clark or her staff were unaware of this coverage. There appears to have been no action taken to set the record straight."

Conspiracy to defraud The report says the primary ingredient for any conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to carry out some common purpose.

"Miss Clark states that she has no recollection of these events. It is, however, difficult to see how Miss Clark could not have possessed the relevant knowledge about how the painting was to be used. It is considered that where that knowledge exists there must be an agreement."

But the report concludes that Helen Clark and her staff were motivated by an attempt to help charity fundraising, not personal gain.

"On balance those involved seem to have been indifferent to any possibility of fraud, if indeed they turned their minds to the prospect at all."

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