A woman at the centre of a custody battle that led to National MP Nick Smith's contempt of court conviction said today she would be devastated if he lost his job as a result.
Dr Smith said after his conviction yesterday he hopes to decide by Monday whether to appeal the verdict, which could see him thrown out of Parliament.
"I'm so gutted for Nick," said the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
"My husband and I, we were in tears last night. I still can't stop crying now," she told National Radio.
Dr Smith, Radio New Zealand and TV3 were found in contempt after publicising details of a Family Court case in which the couple lost custody of their child.
Family Court proceedings are not open to the public and media can only report cases with specific approval from the judge.
In a reserved decision released by the High Court yesterday, following a trial last month, Justices Wild and MacKenzie said they were satisfied beyond doubt Dr Smith intended to influence the Family Court's decision.
Dr Smith "usurped" the court's role by making his own inquiries into the case, and publicising details in media releases, the judges said.
After 3-1/2 years pursuing their case, the family ran out of money, she said.
Dr Smith gave them money to fight their case because he believed they had the right to a fair hearing.
"He didn't have to help us. He put everything on the line for us."
Dr Smith incurred almost $100,000 in legal fees "because he tried to help us", she said.
"He's the most loyal, supportive, compassionate person I've ever known."
Now Dr Smith was in danger of being kicked out of Parliament because of the conviction.
"He could lose his job. That really disturbs me."
The woman would vote for Dr Smith at the next election. "We fully support him," she said.
"He's the kind of ... MP we want in Parliament. Someone who's going to fight for us. Someone who's going to make a difference. Or what's the point of any of them being there if we can't ... go to them, if they're not going to make a difference, if they're not going to look after us? They're elected to do that."
Nobody else had cared about what was happening her family, she said.
Dr Smith said he wanted to talk to constituents before deciding whether he would appeal or resign from Parliament.
He was seeking advice on what the verdict meant, and hoped to make a decision on whether he should appeal by Monday.
Nelson National Party chairman Dan Dolejs said in a statement today he had called an emergency meeting tonight of members to discuss the conviction with Dr Smith.
The Nelson MP has now entered a legal grey area that could end his career.
Under electoral law, an MP found guilty of a crime punishable by two years or more imprisonment has to be thrown out of Parliament.
Dr Smith said the verdict sat "uneasily" with Electoral Act provisions and he wanted to get further advice on that.
"It seems there is a large degree of legal uncertainty about the impact of a conviction for contempt."
Auckland University law Professor Bill Hodge said Dr Smith should not resign.
"Technically he's guilty (but) that doesn't mean he's done anything immoral," Prof Hodge told NewstalkZB.
Contempt of court should be about protecting parties but it could be seen as the courts protecting themselves.
"It is necessary on some occasions to protect the integrity and the processes of the court. That court, in particular, has been subject to some criticism, and I think MPs and the media have to play a part in making those criticisms," he said.
"Justice should not be above criticism.
Former New Zealand First MP Tau Henare, who stood for National at the last election, said Dr Smith had done what "every right-thinking member of Parliament should do. That's their job".
"At the end of the day he is put there to do a job, he is put there by individuals to do a job, to stand up where they can't stand up," Mr Henare told NewstalkZB.
National leader Don Brash had little to say about the MP who was briefly his deputy after Dr Brash ousted Mr English.
"I am disappointed, but Dr Smith still retains my full support and confidence," Dr Brash said yesterday.
Parents Rights and Open Justice Trust chairman Peter Malone said the trust was prepared to carry out more fundraising, if Dr Smith decided to appeal.
The trust has already raised $50,000 towards the $85,000 cost of the court case so far.