NZF donations: Winston unleashes on 'fake news'

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters addresses the party’s conference in Dunedin yesterday....
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters addresses the party’s conference in Dunedin yesterday. Photo: Gregor RIchardson.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has continued his attack on the media and the National Party while en route to the G20 ministers' meeting in Japan.

And the New Zealand First leader, who has been under pressure over donations to the party this week, has echoed US President Donald Trump by calling the media "fake news".

Peters fired a barb yesterday before departing for Japan, saying on Twitter: "For the first time ever NZ will attend the G20 Foreign Ministers' meeting, held this year in Japan. So we're off to try and sort out the world. When we get back we're going to sort out the media."

This morning Peters elaborated, hitting out not only against the media, but also the National Party and suggesting National leader Simon Bridges was being hypocritical.

"One of the amazing things about New Zealand politics is just how hypocritical some people can be," Peters said in a video clip posted to Twitter.

"For example Simon Bridges is attacking New Zealand First and me on the question of donations to the party. All these donations, of course, were under and in the limits defined by electoral law. We've met all requirements.

"But it's him and his party that's in front of the Serious Fraud Office and have been for eight long months, but you wouldn't think so the way he's carrying on at the moment."

The SFO is investigating a donation made to the National Party that was allegedly split into smaller chunks to avoid disclosing the identity of the donor, according to former National and now independent MP Jami Lee-Ross.

Bridges has always said National has complied with the law and welcomed the SFO scrutiny.

Peters has been on the defensive after the legality of donations to the party through the secretive New Zealand First Foundation were raised this week.

The Electoral Commission is looking into the matter, and Peters, who insists that nothing illegal has occurred, said that the party is looking forward to meeting with the commission.

Bridges has attacked the foundation, saying it was a very different beast to the donation that the SFO was looking at because it appeared to be a mechanism that NZ First had been using over a long period.

Yesterday Peters' lawyer Brian Henry threatened to sue Bridges and National MP Nick Smith for $30 million over comments they made under parliamentary privilege attacking the NZ First Foundation.

"Repeat what you said in the House in public or apologise," Henry said to them in a letter that was tabled in the House yesterday.

"Please note if you oblige with this request [to repeat the comments outside the House] I will sue you for defamation for general damages together with special damages which from the consequences of your and [Radio NZ reporter Guyon] Espiner's action could be as high as $30,000,000."

Smith said he stood by the comments he made in the House, but has not repeated them outside the House.

Peters finished his video post by echoing US President Donald Trump.

"My advice to the media is: Get some serious education on the electoral law of this country and stop writing these speculative articles which do your profession no credit.

"Fake news is not good enough."

Peters' relationship with the media has at times been fractious.

Earlier this week, he used the words "psycho", "stupid", and "psychologically maladjusted" in response to journalists' questions about a company with links to NZ First that had applied for a loan from NZ First Minister Shane Jones' Provincial Growth Fund.

The loan application was rejected and any conflict of interest issues were handled appropriately, Peters said.

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