The fall of Dr Richard Worth (+ timeline)

From the lofty highs of an unsanctioned camel ride National's Richard Worth has fallen into the midst of a police investigation which has seen him resign from his ministerial portfolios.

Dr Worth first entered Parliament as the MP for Epsom in 1999. He won the seat again in 2002 but was toppled by Rodney Hide in 2005 and returned as a list MP.

Dr Worth stood again in the Epsom electorate last year but did not make any real effort on the campaign - though both ACT and National denied making a deal to see Mr Hide safely win the seat.

Over the last 10 years Dr Worth has been a declining force in the National Party.

When he entered for National in 1999 he was a top lawyer, a partner and later chairman for Simpson Grierson, with experience in international affairs and business and a PhD from RMIT University in Melbourne.

He was the Consul for Columbia for six years and Monaco for eight. In addition, he is a former president of the Hong Kong New Zealand Business Association and former chairman of the India Trade Group and Korea New Zealand Business Council.

Dr Worth, a former navy captain, was appointed an Officer of the British Empire (Military Division) and made a knight in the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem for his work with the order.

He was understood to have been promised the Speaker's job if National won in 2005. They lost. In 2008 he was appointed as a minister outside Cabinet.

Until today he was Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister for Land Information, Minister Responsible for the National Library and Archives New Zealand and Associate Minister of Justice.

In 2002, Dr Worth garnered attention when he chose to take a camel ride, visit the pyramids, and shop at a market rather then attend a service to honour the Maori Battalion during an official trip to Egypt.

Soon after he returned to New Zealand he quit as a director of Prada America's Cup (NZ) Limited because of suggestions it was disloyal for an MP to be linked to a challenging syndicate.

He said at the time he became a Prada board member before the previous Cup, when he was not an MP.

More recently Dr Worth was in trouble after he went to India on a private visit and promoted an aviation company in which he held shares and a directorship.

He resigned the directorship and sold the shares.

It was also reported that a company Dr Worth held shares in had links with another company which was investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.

Despite Labour's calls for him to be fired, Prime Minister John Key stood by him - until now.

Dr Worth and his wife, Lynne, have one adult daughter.

His profile on the National Party website lists his hobbies as mountain climbing, Bollywood films, Korean classical music and the early works of Sun Tzu.

He may have more time for these pursuits without his ministerial responsibilities and with his future as an MP in doubt.

Timeline of Richard Worth's political career:

November 1999 -- Elected MP for Epsom in general election, retains the seat in 2002.

October 2002 -- On an official trip to Egypt, skips a Maori Battalion service to instead go to Cairo, visit the pyramids and take a camel ride.

September 2005 -- Loses Epsom to ACT leader Rodney Hide, returns to Parliament as a list MP.

November 2008 -- National gains power, Worth again returned as a list MP.

November 2008 -- Appointed a minister outside cabinet holding portfolios of internal affairs and land information. Also associate minister of justice. Ranked 22nd in executive list of 23 ministers.

March 2009 -- Reports published about private visit to India during which he promoted aviation training in New Zealand while having an interest in an air training academy in Invercargill.

March 2009 -- Prime Minister John Key tells press conference he gave Worth "a bollocking" over conflict of interest and failing to tell him about business interests.

April 2009 -- Worth apologises to Key but says he has done nothing wrong.

April 2009 -- Labour attacks Worth in Parliament, demands resignation. Worth continues to insist he has done nothing wrong.

April 2009 -- More problems when Worth visits taxi driver allegedly attacked by members of a group that included the son of an acquaintance, Labour again calls for resignation on the grounds of conflict of interest.

May 2009 -- Worth refuses to answer questions from Labour MP Chris Hipkins about his activities, saying they are a waste of time. Key says he will consider the situation.

June 3 2009 -- Worth announces his resignation as a minister, citing personal reasons. Key accepts resignation, says "private matters" are involved.

Police issue statement saying an allegation has been made against an MP and a preliminary investigation has started.



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