Peters in court versus Government departments and National MPs next week

Winston Peters is expected to be in court or up to three weeks beginning on Monday when his case against the Attorney-General (on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development), the ministry’s chief executive, the State Services Commissioner and former ministers and national MPs Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett.

This is over an alleged leak of details of an overpayment to Peters of Superannuation from 2010 until 2017. He received a single person’s Super but was living in a relationship.

Peters actually outed himself after journalists were given the information and started asking questions.

I’m not sure how everyone taken to court by Peters can have leaked the information.

There are a number of bizarre aspects to all this.

Newsroom:  Peters’ day job on hold as he sues the Crown

Winston Peters will take time off his day job as Acting Prime Minister next week when his high-stakes court action begins against the head of the public service, a top mandarin, a government agency and two former National ministers.

His case alleging a breach of his privacy in the leaking in 2017 of his seven-year national superannuation overpayment starts in the High Court at Auckland on Monday.

Peters’ case has moved from an initial focus against the two National politicians for leaking the details of his overpayment, to now claiming the government departments and officials breached his privacy in advising the ministers. Further, he has accused the officials of being reckless and acting in bad faith, and the Crown is defending that allegation with vigour.

This seems to have been a fishing expedition with Peters trying too discover who leaked the information. As information was provided he seems too have changed his targets.

Newsroom and Newshub were two media organisations that received anonymous calls alerting them to the overpayment and were initially subject to Peters’ legal demand to reveal phone, electronic communication records and any journalistic notes. The demand was refused and Peters abandoned that action.

Peters should have known that journalists are able to protect the identity of sources. He seemed to think he could legally bully them into revealing who provided the information.

The Deputy PM wants $450,000 in damages from each of the named defendants, meaning a total of $1.8 million if he pursues all of those monetary claims listed in early court documents.

That’s a lot being claimed. I have no idea what his chances are of getting anything like that amount. This is an unusual case so there are unlikely to be similar precedents.

Any damages awarded would be covered by the taxpayer under an arrangement authorised by the Cabinet. Taxpayers are also paying for the two Queens Counsel and legal teams.

Regardless of whether damages will be awarded this is an expensive exercise. Peters is at risk of it backfiring.

Peters has implied publicly that MSD made the error in which he was recorded on that application as single rather than in the de facto relationship with Jan Trotman that he was in at the time. Court documents show that in ‘interrogatories’ – or questions asked by the Crown in advance of the hearing – Peters acknowledged he could have received a letter in 2014 asking him to check the details on that 2010 application, but does not recall that and did not read it if it did arrive.

I doubt that not reading a letter is a solid defence for not being aware he was being overpaid.

It is odd that he received an overpayment for years without knowing it was more than he was eligible to receive.

Peters’ lawyers filed the first application in this case – featuring the various National Party figures named above – the day before the September 2017 election and he then proceeded to negotiate ‘in good faith’ with both National and Labour, before serving the papers on the National MPs and others after the Labour coalition was formed.

I suspect National knew that Peters was simply using them to push a better deal with Labour. It’s hard to see serious intent to negotiate a coalition agreement with National.

It was alleged recently that Peters had offered to drop the legal action if Paula Bennett retired from politics. That can’t be true – but if it was it sounds like a form of extortion.

In past election campaigns Peters has insisted he wouldn’t indicate which parties he would consider going into coalition with. It would be even more farcical if he tries that again next year.

Bennett and Tolley could be in the witness stand from Thursday, and can also expect to be cross-examined by Peters’ lawyer Brian Henry, a one-time advocate for the former Dirty Politics blogger Whaleoil, aka Cameron Slater.

Slater is now bankrupt, presumably owing Henry a some sort of amount for representing him (unsuccessfully) versus Matt Blomfield.

It had seemed odd that Peters’ lawyer represented Slater, and at the same time Slater promoted NZ First on Whale Oil. There is another connection there, Simon Lusk, who has used Slater and Whale Oil to promote political clients and attack opponents of clients, and is apparently now advising NZ First.

as previously indicated, this whole situation is has a number of bizarre aspects to it.

 

 

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79 Comments

  1. It’s bad either way; he was defrauding WINZ ( possible but unlikely for such a small amount) or he’s incompetent and signs things without reading them.

    Reply
    • Please tell me that six people don’t mind having a deputy PM who doesn’t read documents before he signs them. He announced on the news that he hadn’t read some things that he’d signed. What else is the old idiot signing his name to ? Wake up, PDTs, this is your deputy PM and he puts his name to dicuments that he doesn’t read first.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  4th November 2019

        You haven’t even heard the court evidence on what was signed and when but have made up your mind….yet you you accuse Peters of gpoing around not reading stuff and with his nose in the air….

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  7th November 2019

          He said on the news some time ago that he signed a lot of documents that he hadn’t read, so it’s hardly an accusation..

          Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  1st November 2019

    Good for Peters…the low depths the Natz black ops engage in, is an indictment on their complete lack of any morality.

    Reply
    • Trevors_elbow

       /  2nd November 2019

      Another unsubstaniated accusation from Blazer… what a surprise….have extra sugar in your tea chap, might alleviate your burning bitterness for a while…

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  2nd November 2019

        He’d need to add the entire packet of sugar and have a personality transplant to do that.

        His new low is beyond anything he’s done before; sneering at a dead baby’s mother.

        Reply
      • Blazer

         /  2nd November 2019

        Its fact.
        Most people recognise that 2 doors down from Key, was his black ops commandant the infamous Jason Ede who orchestrated the misinformation and dirt digging that has become a feature Natz politking.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  2nd November 2019

          Yes, well, to be fair, National – & Peters – are probably more notable for doing this sort of thing than Labour.

          Reply
      • Blazer

         /  7th November 2019

        A journalist leaked the information ,refused to say whether her informant was male or female.
        Suggests Winston’s likely suspect/s are indeed the culprits.

        Reply
    • Nothing like that is proven yet in this case.

      And Peters has a long record of making dirty accusations against political opponents and not fronting up with any evidence. he has expected the media (who he blasts when it suits) or the police to support his claims, many of which are never proven.

      I think it wise to wait to see the outcome of the court proceedings before making judgements on this one, but I think if Peters had had evidence at the start he would have revealed it.

      Reply
  3. Trevors_elbow

     /  2nd November 2019

    Hmmmm. So …. Peter’s applied for a benefit. He would gave received a confirmation letter stating it had been gra nr and all the terms of the benefit… I.e. it was living alone… the rate… and a statement about ‘if your circumstances change advise us promptly’. And then he gets one or more confirm no changes letters over a number of years….and does nothing to rectify a false declaration……

    This then ends up being made public knowledge by someone…. and Winston gets huge media coverage running onto an election when his campaign was flagging and he gets to play ‘I’ve been done wrong… political smear… poor me ‘ cards..

    And it’s a Nats did it thing. Please…..

    And now he wastes millions of taxpayers dollars seeking more publicity and cranking up the meme of standing up to the powers that be.. justice… wont be messed with tough guy routine..

    Bejesus…..

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  2nd November 2019

      I think it’s going to backfire.

      Whatever the outcome of this fishing expedition litigation, I reckon folk like me – who do wonder if it was an organised leak from a National Minister (as opposed to an off-their-own-bat leak by a peeved, Peters-hating bureaucrat) – still think badly of him anyway for claiming the single person’s Super & are dubious about his excuse for it.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  2nd November 2019

        I think that he could claim it if he wasn’t claiming for them as a partner. BUT the form does ask if the applicant lives alone (I have just looked it up) so he has made a false declaration if he wasn’t.

        He’s a lawyer, forsooth, he must know the importance of reading forms carefully. It’s not like the fine print at the end that almost everyone blah blah blahs through.

        My guess is someone in WINZ has done it.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  2nd November 2019

          Yeah, that’s my guess as the most likely source too – but given how dirty we know some pollies can be – including Winston – I’m not ruling a pollie-leak out.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  2nd November 2019

            I once worked at what’s now WINZ, and while I wouldn’t have dared do anything like that, I could see how someone could be tempted.

            I don’t see how anyone else could have known.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  2nd November 2019

              All Departments have an SSC-mandated No Surprises policy under which anything controversial or likely to create adverse publicity for a department must be notified to their Minister.

              This situation would have been big news at the office where it was discovered, when it was discovered, because it could conceivably cause problems for MSD if it got out (of the “their checks are inadequate” variety). The Manager would certainly have been notified. It likely then went up the chain.

              There’s a good likelihood, imo, that the Minister was informed.

            • Duker

               /  4th November 2019

              No surprises is just a ‘policy’.
              Winz privacy is actually part of the Social Welfare Act.

            • Gezza

               /  4th November 2019

              Confidentiality of his personal information is also mandated by Principles 10 & 11 of the Privacy Act.

              The No Surprises policy can nevertheless posdibly be invoked, I think, in some situations, to inform a relevant Minister of a potential problem situation like this, however they then are also subject to the Privacy Act, so they must treat the information as confidential too – they can’t leak it.

              From the brief item on 1news tonite about the case, it seems the MSD Minister WAS informed under the No Surprises policy. Winston is challenging their right to be informed under No Surprises.

              It will be interesting to see whether the Court rules on this point.

    • Blazer

       /  2nd November 2019

      let’s not forget the ‘double dipper from Dipton’…who couldn’t remember where he lived and paid back thousands.

      Reply
      • Gerrit

         /  2nd November 2019

        Let’s not forget the Greens MP (Delahunty and Fitzsimons) that couldn’t remember the housing rules and paid back thousands at the same time.

        Attention seeking selective morality or Blazing Squirrels?

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  2nd November 2019

          oh please…the standard refrain….X did it…too!

          Reply
          • Gerrit

             /  2nd November 2019

            oh please, the standard refrain, double dipper from Dipton.

            How many times must it be pointed out to you that it was the greens who were caught out double dipping and afterwards Parliamentary Services made a ruling regarding Wellington accommodation allowances. Each and every MP who inadvertently had claimed the accommodation allowance, after being ill advised on what was a permissible deduction, recompensed the State.

            But keep playing your little blazing squirrels, they don’t advance your argument or standing in the least.

            Reply
          • Duker

             /  4th November 2019

            Greens haven’t been Minister’s until 2017, so couldn’t have got a ministerial allowance for living Wellington .

            Reply
      • Corky

         /  2nd November 2019

        Remember Phillida Bunkle?

        Reply
        • Let’s not forget that Bill English was misinformed and paid the money back voluntarily as soon as he discovered this.

          Blazer’s version is a total distortion of the truth.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  2nd November 2019

            Blazer is a total distortion of the truth.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  2nd November 2019

              you wouldn’t know the truth if it punched you in the face..Al.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  2nd November 2019

              Unlike you, I know it well enough to know it wouldn’t, B.

            • Blazer

               /  2nd November 2019

              but you said you had never been ..punched in the face.A sheltered ,privileged life of…entitlement….and still unsatisfied,you miserable F.

            • Gezza

               /  3rd November 2019

              I don’t think there’s a great deal of merit in your boasting about your much greater experience at being punched in the face, B? 😳

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd November 2019

              The harder you fight it the more you prove me right, B.

            • Blazer

               /  3rd November 2019

              @G…you are making assumptions…presumeably you know what a metaphor is.

            • Gezza

               /  3rd November 2019

              @ B

            • Blazer

               /  3rd November 2019

              @G…I see…people find different things…’funny’..
              Mike Tyson said…’everyones got a plan…until they get punched in the face’…he was NOT…joking! 😉

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd November 2019

              Of course he wasn’t – he was a much better puncher than comedian. Had some trouble transferring his talent to real life though. Seems to have worked on the theory that punching people made them as confused as he was. Seems to have worked for you, B.

          • Duker

             /  4th November 2019

            It was Marian Hobbs and Phillida Bunkle , who lost their jobs for played the living in one place while claiming a postal address outside Wellington was their home. This was a long time before English played a different version of the same game, can’t say it was ‘inadvertant’, he tried to alter his family trust to comply with the letter of the law, but still was a sham. And he was Minister of finance too, not ex teacher and history lecturer.

            Reply
      • Trevors_elbow

         /  2nd November 2019

        Sir Wadddabout Blazer….strikes again more sweetened tea for thee

        Reply
  4. NOEL

     /  2nd November 2019

    Great laugh Blazer.
    Morality and ethics in po!itics?
    Nanh! This stuff.

    Reply
  5. NOEL

     /  2nd November 2019

    Oops “Tui” stuff.

    Reply
  6. And when Winston loses and declares that the courts are corrupt and NZ judges are uneducated bigoted fools, what will Jacinda do?

    Pass it off as a difference of opinion I suppose. I can hear her say “while the Deputy Prime Minister may believe that judges are the enemy of the people, that is not something I agree with, but I don’t see the need to interfere in this situation”.

    Reply
    • OUCH !!!! 😀

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  4th November 2019

      Peters got the original winebox enquiry , headed by a former chief justice overturned, as the former judges interpretation of tax law was incorrect.
      Davidson apparently believed a group of lawyers and accountants passing cheques around a table was a normal way of doing business. Part of what they did involved a transaction witha Cook Is company in which the Cooks government said tax was paid , but in effect they only got a small cut, and another cheque was passed back to the NZ based business.

      Reply
  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  2nd November 2019

    Jacinda will enjoy working with Shane Jones in the meantime.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  2nd November 2019

      Who wouldn’t? 😎

      Reply
      • He’s lost the Indian vote, the damned fool. What a stupid remark to make.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  4th November 2019

          Are you for real ?
          NZ first lost the Indian vote….hahahaha
          So we have a policy of stable relationship which applies to everyone, but it’s racist because we won’t any longer make an exception for India

          Reply
  8. Blazer

     /  2nd November 2019

    Mr Bridges…’I don’t want 2 Indians,prefer 2 Chinamen or 1 Chinaman and 1 Filipino….

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  2nd November 2019

      He has never said anything like that. It’s lucky that you use a pseudonym or you might be facing a defamation charge.

      Does anyone in this day and age talk about Chinamen ?

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  2nd November 2019

        Wikipedia says that the word Chinaman was in disuse by 1965; so it’s almost 60 years since it was current.

        Simon Bridges was born in 1976. The odds are that someone of his age won’t even have heard anyone saying it, and he’s hardly likely to use an expression that fell into disuse so long before he was born or thought of.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  2nd November 2019

          Just be grateful like I am that Blazer didn’t go the whole hog and call them Ching Chong Chinamen. 😠

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  2nd November 2019

            to make you all feel better he actually said ‘Chinese’…whether that is nothing like Chinamen…you can ..decide.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  2nd November 2019

              It doesn’t make me feel better; why should it ? I knew that he didn’t use that very outdated word.

              What he said bore no resemblance to your absurd misquotation. You forget that it was on the news and we heard it in context, so know it was nothing like this distorted nonsense.

          • Blazer

             /  2nd November 2019

            yes when Winston said they might ‘wing the wong number’…resident Chinese were genuinely amused.

            Reply
            • He actually said ‘Two Wongs don’t make a white.’ which is even sillier than the phone number one which has probably been around since phones have and wasn’t funny even when it was new.

              His ‘joke’ was brayed at by his fawning followers despite the fact that it made no sense at all.

        • Kimbo

           /  3rd November 2019

          Until very recently cricketers still widely used the term “Chinaman” to describe left arm wrist spin bowling, in memory of the Chinese West Indian Arthur Ah Chong, the first practitioner of the art. But it was a bit of an anachronism, like a “Maori side step” to describe running over the top of an opponent in rugby,

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  3rd November 2019

            I saw that usage when I looked up Chinaman to see how long it had been since the word was in common usage…I’d never heard that one before. It didn’t say why it was called that, though.

            Reply
            • Kimbo

               /  3rd November 2019

              As I mentioned, Ellis Achong (not Arthur Ah Chong as per my previous post) was the first to bowl that style. An English batsman allegedly returned to the pavilion and said in his dressing room, “fancy being dismissed by a Chinaman”, and the sobriquet stuck.

              https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellis_Achong

              Just as the googly or wrong ‘un (back of the hand delivery by the right arm wrist spinner that turns the other way from off to leg) is sometimes called a “bosie” after one of its first practitioners, Bernard Bosanquet:

              https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Bosanquet_(cricketer)

              Or the Fosbury Flop after Dick Fosbury, the American 1968 Olympic high jump champion who first used the technique.

      • Blazer

         /  3rd November 2019

        “Two Chinese would be nice but then you know, would it be one Chinese and one Filipino? Or, you know, what do we do?” Bridges was heard saying.
        Ross replied: “Two Chinese would be more valuable than two Indians I have to say.”
        Then Bridges said: “Yeah, which is what we’ve got at the moment, right?”
        Khar said the association is demanding an “immediate apology” from Bridges and also reactions from National’s two Indian list MPs.’..Stuff.

        read it and…weep.

        Reply
  9. Blazer

     /  2nd November 2019

    So Chinamen is far removed from Chinese…!Do me a favour.Hopeless!

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  3rd November 2019

      Well done for admitting it, Blazer, that’s a step in the right direction.

      Reply
  10. I think this case raises important questions of privacy of information. But it is also a risk for Peters, who is blaming the form he incorrectly filled out, the public servant who filed his claim, government departments and two National MPs (ministers at the time) – that seems to be based on assumption or guessing:

    Peters’ lawyer, Brian Henry, cited the case of entertainer Sir Cliff Richard where news of a police investigation had been leaked to a news organisation. “A suspect has a reasonable expectation of privacy when an investigation is under way. The fact of an investigation as a given will very often carry some stigma. The Richards case was a sex investigation. This was a fraud investigation.”

    Justice Venning intervened: “The Richards case was a police matter. That didn’t happen here.”

    Henry: “Fraud is just as bad a slur on your reputation as sex, your honour. People are now running around town saying Mr Peters has somehow chiselled MSD on his benefit.”

    He said Peters’ case was an example of a political smear, with the information coming to light four weeks before an election. “The Latin saying ‘cui bono’ points to the high probability those who stood to gain are political opponents.”

    Details of day 1 in court: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/11/05/895355/multiple-omissions-in-peters-super-application#

    Reply
  11. Blazer

     /  5th November 2019

    lets hope Peters wins…too much gaming by the Natz.
    Especially the repugnant,new improved…Paula.

    Reply
  12. duperez

     /  5th November 2019

    I appreciate people better placed than me make decisions for good reasons but I am curious about an aspect of two murder cases which have begun in our courts.

    In Auckland and Dunedin men are charged with murdering young women. The 32 year old defendant in Dunedin has been named while the 27 year old defendant in the other case has name suppression.

    I don’t understand why one can have name suppression and the other not. We sometimes see that defendants need time to inform families, or they have a sick grandmother needing to be protected from a deadly shock.

    Yesterday I heard comment on radio about overseas media not being bound by the suppression ruling and that meaning the likelihood of the name of the Auckland man getting out. There must be petty good reason for it to not be out when the Dunedin accused has his name in headlines.

    Reply
  13. Corky

     /  7th November 2019

    I wonder if the Shane Jones sideshow is happening so media attention is not focused on Winstons court case?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  7th November 2019

      Hmm. A possibility. They’re both rat cunning. And dog whistling rants against immigrants are a stock standard election pitch for Winston/NZF – but it’s a bit too early for them to be electioneering, really.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  7th November 2019

        I would think it highly unlikely. They are both very bad publicity.

        Reply
    • Corky

       /  7th November 2019

      Apparently Winston has been very fractious on the stand.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  7th November 2019

        just another indictment on the Natz reign of terror and complete lack of morality.
        We’v got the Police apologising AGAIN re political matters.Bradbury joins Hager and his daughter in being apologised to.

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  7th November 2019

          What?🤔

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  7th November 2019

            Apparently Winston has been very fractious on the stand.
            Naturally. Fractious is Winston’s default setting. 😐

            Reply
          • Blazer

             /  7th November 2019

            Natz politics in action Corky.Leak Peters info,sic the Police onto left wing journalists.
            Forget protocols of decency or morality.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  7th November 2019

              I think that’s what this court case is about, Blazer. I’m sure the court is neutral and will rule accordingly. By all means let rip…AFTER NATIONAL HAS BEEN FOUND GUILTY!

  14. Kitty Catkin

     /  7th November 2019

    Winston’s saying that people wouldn’t remember his partner being there ignores the fact that he is so well known that people would be likely to remember her because she was his partner.

    Reply

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