The Nippert tax investigations

Media is widely criticised for it’s shallowness, it’s obsession with trivia, and it’s lack of investigative reporting.

Last year Matt Nippert showed that there is still some old school investigation going on. He has detailed his series on articles on tax last year – 19 articles at NZ Herald on the topic were published through the year, in what he calls “a deliberate effort to dig into the opaque world of corporate tax avoidance and the growing Tax Gap.”

Not the most popular of topics, but far more important than much of the news we are now dished up.

The series started with package on the front page of the Herald on March 18. This included:

A pre-planned series of stories followed, including

Nippert then looked at government policy on the issue, including

Some further drilling down:

Nippert: “Throughout all this, the opinions of the public and policy-maker and even the business community appeared to shift.”

And finally “late in the year, the government finally reacted”:

In a year that the Herald was heavily criticised for it’s click-bait headlines and increasing reliance trivia we should acknowledge that they retain a commitment to some in depth investigative reporting, albeit with reducing resources.


NZH bio on Nippert:

A Fulbright scholar with a masters from the Columbia School of Journalism in New York, Matt has spent the past decade in newsbreaking roles at the New Zealand Listener, National Business Review, Herald on Sunday and the Sunday Star-Times before joining the Herald in 2014. His work has won numerous awards and he is the reigning Canon reporter of the year.

His stories include horrific abuse at a state-run boys home on Great Barrier Island, malfeasance at South Canterbury Finance, systematic tax avoidance by multinational companies, and the sudden resignation of justice minister Judith Collins.

Nippert has a regular sideline as a broadcast commentator and is one of only a few journalists who honestly enjoys numbers and spreadsheets.

Last year Nippert won Canon media awards for his efforts:

  • Reporter – Business Matt Nippert – The New Zealand Herald
  • Reporter of the Year Matt Nippert – The New Zealand Herald

FBI reopens Clinton email investigation

As if the US election hadn’t been bizarre enough, it has just been announced that the FBI is going to have another look at Hillary Clinton’s use of emails.

Fox News: FBI reopens investigation into Clinton email use

The FBI has reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, in a stunning turn of events just days before the presidential election. 

FBI Director James Comey wrote in a letter to top members of Congress Friday that the bureau has “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

Comey did not detail those emails, saying only that they surfaced “in connection with an unrelated case.”

He told lawmakers the investigative team briefed him on the information a day earlier, “and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

He said the FBI could not yet assess whether the new material is significant and he could not predict how long it will take to complete “this additional work.” 

The move comes after Comey and the Justice Department decided in July not to pursue charges over Clinton’s email practices. 

Comey has since come under criticism from lawmakers and others who claim the investigation downplayed the mishandling of classified information during Clinton’s tenure. 

The presidential campaign has been dominated by Clinton’s use of emails and Donald Trump’s alleged abuse of women.

Whoever wins in two weeks the controversies and potentially legal actions are likely to linger, possible for years.

There have been reports that if Clinton wins and the Republicans keep control of the House there will be a barrage of ‘Oversight’ investigations.

Inside the GOP plot to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidency

As David Weigel of The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, is planning on “spending years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton.” Republicans will start by continuing to investigate everything she did when she was secretary of state, and just keep on going with whatever ghastly crimes she commits as president. Welcome back to the 1990s.

Of course, the Oversight Committee’s job is oversight. And Rep. Chaffetz is much smarter than the person who preceded him in that position, Darrell Issa; Issa’s probes of the Obama administration were far more likely to end with Issa looking foolish than with the administration being embarrassed, and Chaffetz is unlikely to commit as many pratfalls. But it’s a hint that Republicans are in no mood for a “honeymoon” with the new president, where everyone says they hope they can get along and make important progress for the good of the country. It’ll be open warfare from Day 1.

That’s dependent on Republicans retaining control of the House, which they will probably do. As long as they have the chairmen’s gavels, they can mount whatever investigations they want and drown the administration in subpoenas. And look, oversight is important. It can be done in a responsible way that ferrets out wrongdoing and keeps the administration honest. But how much confidence should we have that Republican lawmakers are capable of that?

To answer that question, all you have to do is look at what the last eight years have been like. It isn’t encouraging.

Take Benghazi, about which many Republicans are still livid. There were eight separate congressional investigations into the attack that killed four Americans. Clinton’s emails will eventually get just as vigorous an examination, with the fact that she has not yet been placed in leg irons spurring every new hearing.

Unfortunately for Republicans, this will be exactly what their base demands. After all, you can’t go through an election in which your presidential nominee leads daily chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” and then think all that rage will just disappear.

The next White House tenure could be ongoing ugly. Or uglier.

UPDATE – NY Times: New Emails in Clinton Case Came From Anthony Weiner’s Electronic Devices

Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner.

The F.B.I. is investigating illicit text messages that Mr. Weiner sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. The bureau told Congress on Friday that it had uncovered new emails related to the Clinton case — one federal official said they numbered in the thousands — potentially reigniting an issue that has weighed on the presidential campaign and offering a lifeline to Donald J. Trump less than two weeks before the election.

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, and that they “appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. was taking steps to “determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” He said he did not know how long it would take to review the emails, or whether the new information was significant.

So the new information may not be significant but the FBI is dropping it into the closing stages of the campaign, without any indication details will be released prior to election day?

So the Democrats are a mess, the Republicans are a mess, the FBI is a mess. And the US has been seriously divided.

Can any good come out of this?

EU investigating NZ as tax haven

Newshub reported tonight that the European Union is investigating whether to include New Zealand on a tax haven black list or not.

Investigation by EU as it prepares a blacklist of global tax havens


More details: EU considers blacklisting NZ over tax laws

New Zealand is under investigation by the European Union as it prepares a blacklist of global tax havens.

The grouping of 28 European nations has compiled a list of countries with lax tax laws, but following the release of the so-called Panama Papers it has confirmed that New Zealand is under investigation.

The EU loses around $NZ1 trillion to tax havens each year, and it intends to put a stop to the practice by threatening a raft of sanctions against countries which don’t comply to its standards.

New Zealand doesn’t comply, even when the recommendations made by tax expert John Shewan as a result of the Panama Papers are included.

What the EU wants:

  1. No anonymity – trust settlers and beneficiaries are identified and changes are recorded. New Zealand will meet this standard when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  2. Collection of information about financial assets – where the funds came from, the current assets, where they are, and the income earned in the past year. New Zealand will meet this standard when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  3. No tax exemption of foreign income. New Zealand will NOT meet this standard even when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  4. Automatic exchange of information with foreign tax authorities in the jurisdictions where the settlers and beneficiaries are resident. New Zealand will NOT meet this standard even when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  5. A public register of trust ownership and details. New Zealand will NOT meet this standard even when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.

Non-complying nations face:

  1. Trade sanctions
  2. Suspension of negotiations for a free-trade agreement
  3. Possible travel bans or visa restrictions.
  4. Sanctions against companies, banks, tax advisers, accountancy and law firms involved in tax deals.

Police investigating voting paper thefts

The police are investigating the alleged theft of hundreds of flag referendum voting papers after claims were made on Twitter.

If the claims are true this is a serious breach of democracy and law. If untrue it’s a seriously irresponsible claim.

Radio NZ: Alleged flag voting paper theft investigated

The Electoral Commission is investigating claims an Auckland man stole hundreds of flag voting papers and voted in favour of the new design

Several people alerted the commission to the comment he made on a Facebook page five days ago.

The man said he had collected the voting papers from people 'who couldn't care less'.The man said he had collected the voting papers from people ‘who couldn’t care less’.

The man wrote that he had collected nearly 300 voting papers from neighbours and friends that he believed “couldn’t care less”.

He had ticked the new flag option on all of them – but it was not known if the papers have been cast.

He has claimed he has ticked them, that doesn’t mean he has collected the voting papers or doing anything with them.

The number sounds suspect to me, that’s a lot of papers to either be stolen or given to someone – who would willingly give him their voting papers?

And if stolen as suggested surely someone would have noticed something, that’s a lot of letter boxes or houses raided.

Whether true or not this is very stupid and highly irresponsible.

If the vote ends up being close can we expect a long and costly process of checking the votes?


Peters to apologise to Horan?

Will Winston Peters apologise to Brendan Horan and offer to reinstate him in NZ First now the police have rejected a complaint Peters made to the serious Fraud Office?

The Police issued this press release this afternoon.

Completion of investigation into Mr Brendan Horan

Statement – attribute to Detective Inspector Mark Loper, District Manager, Criminal Investigations, Bay of Plenty District

Tauranga Police has completed an investigation into a complaint against Mr Brendan Horan.

The complaint was made by Mr Winston Peters MP to the Serious Fraud Office in December 2012.

Mr Peters made allegations about the misappropriation of funds from Mr Horan’s late mother’s bank account, and the complaint was referred to the Police for investigation.

There has been a comprehensive investigation by the Western Bay Of Plenty Criminal Investigation Branch into these allegations over the last 2 years, including review of the file by senior detectives.

After consideration of all relevant information and the Solicitor General’s prosecution guidelines, police have determined that there is insufficient evidence to charge any person with a criminal offence.

Parties involved have been advised of the outcome and the investigation has been filed.

Peters also effectively kicked Horan out of NZ First which made it virtually impossible for Horan to be re-elected as an independent MP in 2014.

I guess Peters could claim he knows best as “insufficient evidence to charge any person with a criminal offence” doesn’t prove innocence, but if the police can’t find sufficient evidence after a two year investigation it’s fair to wonder what Peters based his actions on.

Frances Cook (Newstalk ZB) tweeted:

Horan: two year investigation has taken a toll, particularly when people would point and whisper in the street.

Says he’ll “never” forgive Winston Peters for dropping him from party. Says it’s difficult to forgive himself for ever working with Peters.

Update: Feeling is mutual. Winston Peters says they’ve long forgotten Horan, it’s “unthinkable” that he’d ever return to politics.

From NZ Herald:  Ex-MP Brendan Horan cleared by police after allegations he took money from late mother’s account

Mr Horan learned the two-year police investigation into the claims was over in a meeting with Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner at the Tauranga police station yesterday.

“He told me it was a comprehensive investigation,” Mr Horan said. “They went through my bank records, interviewed many people. After the investigation that has taken around two years, there’s no evidence to support any charges being laid against me.”

The allegations stemmed from a family disagreement over the will of Olwen Horan and effectively ended Mr Horan’s brief parliamentary career. He was a first term Member of Parliament for NZ First in December 2012 when the claims were made, with party leader Winston Peters passed information from those who had themselves changed her will to access a greater share of inheritance.

In Parliament, Mr Peters said he had on the “initial complainant and those associated with him, evidence to support their allegations”.

In the wake of his call, “substantive material” was provided which left him with “no confidence in Mr Horan’s ability to continue as a Member of Parliament”.

Mr Horan was kicked out of NZ First and Mr Peters, in Parliament, said the MP had “a duty, I believe, to resign from Parliament”.

Mr Horan continued working as an MP, stood as an independent in last year’s election but was unsuccessful.

Since then, the ongoing police investigation has dogged the former MP and made it difficult to secure sought-after jobs.

I wonder how many political careers Peters has ruined and tried to ruin without producing substantial evidence to back his claims?



IPCA to investigate Hager house search

The Independent Police Complaints Authority has propmtly confirmed to the Green Party that it will investigate a complaint about the police actions in searching Nicky Hager’s house.

Metiria Turei has advised by press release:

IPCA to investigate Green’s complaint over Hager search

The Green Party received a letter this afternoon from the IPCA confirming that it will investigate, after the party wrote to the authority on Monday. A High Court judge last week found that the police warrant and search on Mr Hager’s home, which followed the publication of his book Dirty Politics, were unlawful.

“We welcome the IPCA’s prompt decision to investigate the decisions that led to the police warrant and unlawful search of Mr Hager’s home,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“There are many unanswered questions from the Dirty Politics scandal, and why the police made the decision to search Mr Hager’s home is one them.

“Given that the warrant and search on Mr Hager’s house has been ruled unlawful, I asked IPCA to investigate the decisions of senior-ranked police officials involved in applying for the warrant.

“It’s important to remember that Nicky Hager’s work uncovering the dirty politics regime run out of the Prime Minister’s office was the reason for the search.

“The Prime Minister has never properly addressed those allegations, other than to attack Mr Hager’s integrity.

“However the Inspector General of Intelligence did investigate one of Hager’s claims and confirmed the Prime Minister’s staff had handed confidential information provided by the Security intelligence Service to the attack blogger Cameron Slater,” Mrs Turei said.

I think this investigation will be useful in determining whether there was political involvement in police decisions to search Hager’s house.

Labour MPs including Annette King and David Parker have also suggested political ‘pressure’ – see Labour accusations of political pressure on police.

Turei’s emphasis here on ‘Dirty Politics’ suggests a wider agenda as her motive but the IPCA should focus on what influenced police decisions to search Hager’s house.

If there was interference from politicians it’s important that comes out.

And it is as important to know if there was not political pressure in this case, to counter the political accusations and insinuations.

Slater talks to Fairfax, contradicts

It appears that Cameron Slater has talked to Fairfax regarding the Rachinger accusations – Cameron Slater denies hacking allegations.

Some of what he is reported to have said seems very odd – why would someone who has admitted to being financially stressed keep handing out generous loans? And some of it is contradictory, with Slater saying he knows nothing of any police investigation but has “given them everything” (the police).

Controversial blogger Cameron Slater is denying allegations that he offered to pay for a hack into left-wing blogThe Standard.

IT consultant Ben Rachinger told TV 3’s The Nation Slater offered him $5000 to get the website’s internal mailing list.

Rachinger said he declined the right-wing blogger’s offer.

Rachinger told The Nation the offer was made by text where Slater said he wanted “all MPs outed”.

“He asked me, ‘I want you to focus on this job of getting into The Standard, I’ve got $5000 available for it’,” he said.

However, Slater has denied these claims, saying “it’s total and utter bulls***”.

Slater said he was not surprised by the allegations but they were not true.

In the past Rachinger had asked Slater for money when he was in a tough spot, he said.

Slater said he did not recall the exact amount he gave to Rachinger.

“It would be $500 here and $500 there.

So Slater has admitted giving Rachinger money. This looks very odd, considering the financial pressure Slater has admitted to being under, and the amount of fund raising Whale Oil has been doing. It may be true but it would surprise me.

“I’m a generous person, I help people out when they’re in trouble but sometimes people bite the hand that helps them out.”

How many people does he drip feed $500 loans to while at the same time claiming he’s broke on Whale Oil?

However, the loans given to Rachinger had been taken out of context, he said.

The context is now even muddier now.

Rachinger said the pair discussed the plan but Slater would not name who was funding the hack.

He said he was only told the “funders aren’t the Nats”.

There appears to be evidence of ‘funders’ being involved in the communications. So this doesn’t add up; with the claims of loans. Who would fund Slater to dish out loans to people?

A police spokesman said police received a complaint regarding an alleged attempt to procure the hacking of a computer system and it was being investigated by Counties Manukau CIB.

“There are a number of complexities to the investigation, including the posting online of documentation which has already compromised the investigation, which is making our inquires more difficult.”

Police were taking a “cautious approach” and any decision on charges was “some way off”, he said.

Slater said he was not aware of any police investigation and he had not been contacted by police in relation to these allegations.

Ok. But…

“I’ve got nothing to hide from any police investigation.”

“I’ve been totally open with the police…I’ve given them my computer, I’ve given them my phone, I’ve given them everything voluntarily.”

This needs clarifying, it just doesn’t make sense. Slater is reported as saying “he was not aware of any police investigation” but has “been totally open with the police” and “I’ve given them everything voluntarily” – without being aware of any investigation?

That’s contradictory. This raises more questions than it answers.

Peter Ellis injustice swept under Government carpet

I don’t know much about the specific legal arguments behind the Government ruling out an independent inquiry into the Peter Ellis case but it appears that again the easy option is to sweep it under a carpet and try to forget it ever happened.

There’s serious question marks over the whole case that dates back to 1993. To learn properly from it requires an honest and thorough inquiry into what went wrong.

Sad to see Justice Minister Amy Adams denying that opportunity.

It looks like another case of the system protecting major botch ups from the scrutiny they deserve and should get.

Details from Stuff: Government declines inquiry into convictions of Peter Ellis

The Government has ruled against an independent inquiry into the sexual assault convictions of Peter Ellis.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has declined a request from supporters of Ellis for a commission of inquiry, saying it did not contain new evidence and an inquiry would not determine matters of guilt.

The push for an inquiry was led by former National Party leader Don Brash, who along with Dunedin author Lynley Hood, wrote to Adams in December last year, calling for an investigation.

Ellis was convicted on 13 charges of abusing children in his care at the Christchurch Civic Creche, in 1993. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment.

Since then, his convictions have been the subject of extensive consideration including two appeals, an inquiry by former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, and a 2003 petition to Parliament. In 2008, a similar request for a Commission of Inquiry was made to and rejected by former Justice Minister Simon Power.

Adams said today she had declined the request, because the Inquiries Act could not be used to determine someone’s guilt. Nor had Ellis exhausted all of his appeal rights within the judicial system.

“Furthermore, the request is almost identical to the one made to former Justice Minister Power, and contains no new evidence. I’m not satisfied there is any new information or development that warrants reconsideration of Mr Power’s decision,” she said.

Sad  to see that one refusal to investigate properly is used an excuse to refuse another.

In their letter, Brash and Hood wrote in the history of New Zealand criminal justice, “no petition to Parliament has been supported by such a weight of political, legal and scholarly authority as the 2003 petition calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry”.

It also cited a “wave of child abuse hysteria that swept the western world in the 1990s”.

It remains a stain on our policing and judicial systems if it remains undealt with.

Of all the controversial historical cases I see the least dispute over the Ellis case, with little sign of claims that the system got it right.

More from Radio NZ:


What we know about the Mike Sabin case

There have been a number of claims and speculation about the Mike Sabin case (in Parliament the Speaker said “We know that there was a court case”).

It is a bizarre situation where we aren’t supposed to talk about something that seems to be a secret. We don’t know what we can or can’t say. But a lot of information is in the public domain.

Michael Lewis “Mike” Sabin (born 24 September 1968) is a former police officer, drug educator and New Zealand politician.

Sabin was raised and schooled in Whangarei. He and his partner, Sandra, live in Cooper’s Beach. He has three children, two of whom are grown up, and one of whom is the journalist Brook Sabin. His partner also has three children.

Sabin wrote a book called The Long Way Home after his son Darryl received a brain injury playing rugby in 2009. The book is about Darryl’s injury and the challenges the family overcame working towards his recovery. His son is now a motivational speaker

Sabin was first employed as a Seaman Officer in the Royal New Zealand Navy in the 1980s. After leaving the Navy, Sabin worked in the dairy industry before joining the Police in the 1990s. In 2006, he founded MethCon Group, a company that supplies drug education. He sold the company in October 2010. He also played a role in the establishment of drug courts in New Zealand by inviting American judge Peggy Hora to talk about how drug courts operate in the United States.

In 2008, Sabin received a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader Award.


Sabin was first elected to Parliament as MP for Northland in November 2011. He was re-elected in September 2014. He annolunced his resignation from Parliament on Friday 20 January 2015 with a short statement:

Press Release: New Zealand National Party
Mike Sabin announces resignation as Northland MP

Northland MP, Mike Sabin, today announced he has resigned from Parliament, effective immediately.

Mr Sabin said he had decided to resign due to personal issues that were best dealt with outside Parliament.

Mr Sabin will not be making any further comment.

The Prime Minister John Key and National Party President Peter Goodfellow ‘acknowledged’ the resignation without further comment about it.

It is highly unusual that an MP resigns without giving any information about it.

Notice of resignation:


Mike Sabin, Northland

Mr SPEAKER : Honourable members, I wish to advise the House that I have received a letter from Mike Sabin resigning his seat with effect from Friday, 30 January 2015.

Parliament Tuesday 10 February:

ANDREW LITTLE : What about the standards of the Government? What about the promise of 2008 that “The Government I lead will be a Government of good standards.”, and its chance to do something, its chance to demonstrate that National actually is a party of standards in Government? It was confronted with it at the end of last year. One of National’s MPs was under a police investigation. One of its MPs—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I invite members throughout this debate to be very careful. We know that there was a court case, and we know that all details were suppressed. [Interruption] Order! There is Standing Order 115. Should any members think I should consider this matter differently, I invite them to use that Standing Order and write to me. At this stage no member has done so. I invite Mr Little to continue.

So “We know that there was a court case”.

We also know there was a police investigation that started at least as far back as August 2014 (NBR have claimed it goes back further than this).

NZ Herald reported on 11 February:

At least two Government ministers were told an unnamed MP was being investigated before last year’s election, but police did not tell Government ministers it was Mike Sabin until November when a media outlet started asking about an investigation into the former MP.

The Herald has learned that before the election Police Minister Anne Tolley and another minister with a related portfolio were told police were looking into an MP.

However, officials did not reveal which MP it was. Current Police Minister Michael Woodhouse was not told it was Mr Sabin until after One News started asking about Mr Sabin on November 25. That was the same day the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, was told and the Prime Minister was told on December 1.

All three ministers have repeatedly refused to say whether they had been briefed or what they had known. Yesterday, Mr Woodhouse refused to confirm whether he was briefed but said he was “absolutely” confident he had handled the issue appropriately.

It is understood police told ministers they withheld the name of the MP because inquiries were still at an early stage and there was concern about the impact on Mr Sabin’s career and reputation if it amounted to nothing. Ministers were eventually told his name under the “no surprises” policy because media had started asking about the case.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush has refused to say whether he briefed ministers on Mr Sabin, but said police had not “dropped the ball” under the no surprises policy. That policy requires Government departments to alert ministers to sensitive or controversial issues.

It’s hard to believe the police would inform the Minister of Police of an investigation into an MP under the ‘no surprises’ policy but withhold the identity of the MP. It is also difficult to believe the Minister would not advise the Prime Minister, nor would the Minister, the Prime Minister or his office find out what they could about the investigation.

Unless they chose to be ignorant.

Key praised Sabin after his resignation – PM Key – Mike Sabin was cabinet material:

“Up until his resignation I’ve had enormous confidence in him as an MP,” he added.

“Actually I think he has performed very strongly. He’s got a great grasp of some of the policy area. I actually saw him as someone that would be potentially a future Cabinet minister if we were in government.”

He had been aware that Mr Sabin, who had been a good, hard-working local MP, had been planning to resign one or two days before he did so, and had become aware of the issues he had referred to in about the last week of the parliamentary term last year.

“He made a very significant contribution to our caucus. He’s a loss in terms of the contribution I’ve seen him make as a politician,” he said.

Up until his resignation Key “had enormous confidence in him as an MP” after he had “become aware of the issues” two months earlier. There are indications Sabin had not been forthcoming to Key about ‘the issues’ so enormous confidence seems odd.

So what about the court case?

It can be presumed this happened after the resignation but it would have had to have happened soon after, possibly immediately after. But there appears to be an official blanket ban of information about it.

However some things can be presumed.

It would seem to have been a brief court case.

This suggests either of two things.

It could have been a very minor case that could be dealt with quickly. This seems very unlikely given the hushing up and Sabin resigning presumably because of it.

One News headlined John Key refuses to comment on Mike Sabin assault allegations nearly two weeks ago.

There have been reports since last year that police have spent weeks looking into allegations of assault levelled at Mike Sabin.

Stuff reported it as an assault inquiry on 21 December in National MP Mike Sabin in police assault inquiry

Police have been investigating an assault complaint against government MP Mike Sabin.

The investigation is related to events in Northland, but detectives working on the case are based in Waitemata, north Auckland.

Basing the case in Auckland suggests it was more than minor.

Since then Andrea Vance has been bolder than most journalists in her reporting and indicates that the media knows the story behind Mike Sabin’s resignation but can’t tell it in Five unanswered questions from the Beehive:

3. Does a politician ever really step down for family reasons?

In Russel Norman’s case: it’s complicated.

In Mike Sabin’s case it’s even more complicated.

4. Why was the usually loquacious Key acting so weird on Sabin?

Like I said, it’s complicated. When a job is a stake, natural justice is always a consideration. That is less easy to hide behind when an MP is at the centre of a police investigation. Key clearly didn’t want to be anywhere near this damaging scandal and all but threw Sabin under the bus with his taciturnity. Less than 24 hours before the resignation, Key told reporters Sabin would be at a Tuesday caucus meeting – suggesting that behind the scenes things weren’t under control in the way he would have liked.

So it would appear to be a case of assault that was serious enough to prompt Sabin to resign as an MP (and chair of the Law & Order committee). And there have been several cliams it could be well up the scale of seriousness.

Team xx  have known all along the seriousness of the offences that Sabin had been accused of, at first, last December it was just an educated guess, based on sound research and then soon enough, just prior to Christmas 2014 break, we received more information confirming our worst suspicions.

And due to it’ being over quickly suggests a guilty plea for this type of case, but one that has been kept under a cloak of secrecy.

There has been a report that someone was remanded at large to reappear in court for a disputed-facts hearing ‘next month’. That was stated in January. We don’t know who that was but this gives us an idea of process.

In general a remand at large is apparently usually granted following a guilty plea but where some of the information contained in the Police Summary of Facts is disputed by the defendant.

The facts of the Sabin case have been both widely discussed and (officially) been kept tightly under wraps.

At this stage we are left having to rely on the judgement of a judge, the police and politicians that it is ‘in the public interest’ to keep the Sabin case a secret.

Their past records, particularly on certain types of cases, doesn’t give me much confidence in their judgement. Protection of ‘prominent New Zealanders’ seems to be given a much higher priority than transparency by some.

So serious concerns remain about the Sabin case.

What was Sabin under investigation for?

Media have been mostly non-specific abaout what Mike Sabin was under investigation for. They appear to be treading carefully.

Andrea Vance at Stuff goes as far as any by describing it as ‘the assualt investigation”.

Key and police minister Michael Woodhouse have repeatedly refused to reveal when police informed the Government of the assault investigation.

If it was a minor assault it’s hard to imagine that so much secerecy would shroud the details. Trevor Mallard’s boofhead assault on Tau Henare was much publicised.

Stuff reported it as an assault inquiry on 21 December in National MP Mike Sabin in police assault inquiry

Police have been investigating an assault complaint against government MP Mike Sabin.

The investigation is related to events in Northland, but detectives working on the case are based in Waitemata, north Auckland.

One News headlined John Key refuses to comment on Mike Sabin assault allegations nearly two weeks ago.

There have been reports since last year that police have spent weeks looking into allegations of assault levelled at Mike Sabin.

They also say:

Former Minister Richard Worth resigned from his portfolios in 2009 while under police investigation for matters of a sexual nature.

At the time, Mr Key said that, had Dr Worth not resigned, he “would have sacked him”.

That could be a better comparison than Key’s attempt to liken it to Helen Clark’s painting signature.

One News have also claimed police investigations went at least as far back as last August, the month before the election.

On 30 January NBR reported in Sabin resigns from Parliament:

NBR ONLINE first began researching the National MP in September.

In December, Fairfax media revealed Waitemata police were investigating an assault complaint against Mr Sabin.

It is understood the National Party was first made aware of an assault complaint against National MP Mike Sabin weeks before the 2011 election but chose not to ask Mr Sabin to withdraw his candidacy.

That links to a firewalled article National knew of Sabin assault allegations.

It is also understood that Mr Key was made aware of the allegation in April last year but chose to neither disclose this to the public nor ask the former police officer to stand down as chairman of the law and order select committee.

Cameron Slater has been both careful and revealing about the possible nature of the charges. on December 21 in THE COMING BY-ELECTION IN NORTHLAND:

The story itself, which National have sat on for weeks, is almost too horrible for words, and there is little doubt that there will be a by-election in Northland.

He was correct about the by-election.

Ethics in politics matter.

Often the left get ethics wrong when they claim National are unethical essentially crying wolf.

The public expect politics to be dirty, and accept that it is, but they don’t accept wife beating, sex offending, assaults or other major ethical lapses.

John Key won’t find the radio interviews and tv appearances quite so easy if he is having to defend wife beaters or people under investigation for serious offences.

He should remove this problem by quietly cutting the throats of the wrong doers.

Key waited until Sabin resigned in early February.


Did Mike Sabin advise anyone in the National party he was under investigation?

Did he disclose everything?

Was it only after he was pushed on details that he fessed up, and then after 24 hours had elapsed?

Why has National sat on this waiting for the proverbial to hit the fan instead of neutering it politically?

And there’s been a number of comments like:

First up National has known about this issue for months, but sat there on the info, which proved remarkably accurate, for months letting the sore fester and become pustulant, almost turning gangrenous.

But all Key and his office will refer to are “personal family matters”. NBR in Sabin: Key says he knew nothing before the election

NBR understands the PM was first made aware of the assault complaint in April last year, months before the September 20 ballot – and that the National Party knew before the 2011 election.

The Northland MP resigned on Friday, citing personal reasons.

Mr Key said this morning he knew about Mr Sabin’s resignation “a day or two prior”.

Asked, “Can we absolutely say you knew nothing about this before the election?” the PM replied “No … I was aware of the personal family matters for about the last week of Parliament last year [Dec 8 – 12]. So that’s the timeframe.”

NBR asked the PM’s office to clarify whether he knew about the assault complaint before the election.

Chief press secretary Sia Aston replied, “To be clear, the Prime Minister wasn’t aware of any personal family matters prior to the election.”

NBR asked if it were possible to view the assault complaint separately from the personal family matters, or if they were inter-related.

Ms Aston replied, “You can take my answer in the broadest context.”

So we have ‘assault’ and ‘personal family matters’ and apparent blanket suppression to go on.

Wikipedia states:

Sabin was raised and schooled in Whangarei. He and his partner, Sandra, live in Cooper’s Beach. He has three children, two of whom are grown up, and one of whom is the journalist Brook Sabin. His partner also has three children.

It seems to be an awkward story to report for media, and it must be particularly awkward for 3 News journalist Brook Sabin, whose last appearance in reporting seems to be Brook Sabin’s year in politics on 19 December last year. Note the date.