The Ombudsman has ordered the release of MP John Banks'
statement to police over donations to his Auckland mayoral
However, the former Act leader's statement will not be
released publicly until after he has stood trial for
allegedly filing a false electoral return for his failed 2010
Police investigated alleged irregularities in Mr Banks'
campaign donations but no charges were laid.
They found that although he had filed a false election
return, he had not done so deliberately because he had signed
it without reading it.
A private prosecution was then launched by retired Wellington
accountant Graham McCready, with a trial set down for May.
Police in 2012 released some documents from their inquiry
under the Official Information Act, including witness
However, Mr Banks' statement to police - given in a
three-hour interview - was withheld, with Mr Banks refusing
to agree to its release.
The Ombudsman's decision comes after a complaint from New
Zealand Herald journalist David Fisher, who requested the
release of the full transcript.
The Labour Party also laid a complaint with the Ombudsman.
Labour's associate security and intelligence spokesman Grant
Robertson said if Mr Banks really had "nothing to fear,
nothing to hide" he should have voluntarily allowed police to
release his statement.
"John Banks must now be aware that his insistence on secrecy
is a farce when there is already so much information about
these allegations in the public arena," he said.
In an opinion, released today, Ombudsman Ron Paterson said
the decision to withhold Mr Banks' statement in full was not
justified, citing public interest grounds.
"I recommend that the police release a redacted statement to
the requesters once the related court proceedings against Mr
Banks have concluded."
Professor Paterson said the Official Information Act did not
give good reason to withhold the statement at the time it was
However, in light of the subsequent private prosecution, he
delayed the statement's release because disclosure would
likely prejudice Mr Banks' right to a fair trial.
Professor Paterson said public interest in the transparency
and accountability of local electoral donations required
access to the parts of Mr Banks' statement relating to the
solicitation of campaign donations and contact with potential
"Given the public disquiet about the integrity of the
fundraising for the 2010 Auckland mayoral election, without
direct access to Mr Banks' statement, the public will not be
Mr Banks is alleged to have knowingly received political
donations from internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and SkyCity
that were recorded as anonymous.
The allegations relate to two $25,000 donations from Dotcom
and a $15,000 donation from SkyCity.
Police have previously released a redacted copy of the
executive summary of their criminal assessment report, as
well as letters to and from complainants, and statements from
witnesses who had authorised their disclosure.
The documents shed light on the way Mr Banks' campaign team
raised nearly $1 million during his 2010 Auckland mayoral
bid, including drawing up a list of 10 rich donors who would
be targeted for $25,000 each.