John Banks reinstated as JP

John Banks relinquished his position as Justice of the Peace when in 2012 he was charged with filing a false electoral return during his Auckland mayoral campaign in 2010, involving donations from Kim Dotcom.

Banks was found guilty but won an appeal that overturned the conviction after he produced new evidence from two American businessmen that contradicted claims made by Dotcom and his wife Mona.

Banks has now been reinstated as a Justice of the Peace. NZ Herald:

Banks takes up Justice of the Peace hat again

“This is just another step in putting a lot of wrongs right after a long, time-wasting and particularly nasty judicial jihad that should have never happened”.

He said he had been a JP for about 14 years and enjoyed the “bread and butter” but important role of certifying documents and swearing affidavits.

I don’t see any problem with Banks being a JP, I don’t doubt his integrity in this regard.

Questions will still be asked about his campaign integrity. Was he lax, or did he knowingly turn a blind eye in signing his electoral return?

Local body candidates are in a much more difficult situation regarding donations as they don’t have party structures to deal with donations at supposed arms length from the candidates. They have to somehow find ways of financing their campaigns but aren’t supposed to know specific donor details while being responsible for signing their returns.

I’m sure Banks was far from the only candidate to have problems dealing with donations. David Cunliffe was embarrassed by his use of a trust for donations when he stood for the labour leadership.

What makes Banks case different in particular is that there seems to have been an attempt by Dotcom to damage Banks, with claims of utu being involved after Dotcom and Banks fell out.

Trevor Mallard was involved, initially laying a complaint against Banks which led to Dotcom’s claims, and Mallard made a further complaint after this came out.

The National Government held a slim majority and Banks had been targeted by the opposition as a means of embarrassing or even bringing down the Government. Dotcom went on the try and defeat the Government in the 2014 election by starting up the Internet Party and pouring a large amount of money into the campaign.

In comparison to all of this Banks being lax or careless with his electoral return in a campaign that he lost seems far less of a democratic issue than what Dotcom and Mallard did.

Would Mallard have the integrity required of a JP? Perhaps now he might, but he has a history of dabbling in dirty politics of a kind far worse in a democracy than a disputed electoral return procedure.

I wouldn’t have any problem using Banks as a JP.

Key and Ambrose settle

John Key and Bradley Ambrose have settled in their defamation case, with Key accepting that Ambrose didn’t intentionally leave the microphone recording, and Ambrose accepting that Key believed at the time the Ambrose did intentionally record.

Key said he had paid a small amount to Ambrose in lieu of legal costs.

After initial reports that Key’s payment might be paid by his leader’s fund he later said it would be raised and paid by the national party.

Greens and NZ First have jumped in trying to score some points. UPDATE: Andrew Little has also climbed on the bashwagon.

My summary of all this:

  • As I remember it the media encouraged key and Banks to have a symbolic cafe meeting.
  • Key relented and arranged the meeting, unwisely.
  • The cafe meeting was a media circus.
  • Key and Banks should never have discussed anything that they wouldn’t have wanted made public.
  • Ambrose should not have recorded the fiasco.
  • Ambrose should not have released details to media about the recording.
  • Key should not have over reacted with a police complaint.
  • The police should not have raided media offices.
  • The media shouldn’t have given Winston Peters so much opportunistic publicity when he milked it.
  • The media shouldn’t have given it all so much attention generally (and this seems to have been revived today).
  • Key and Ambrose should have resolved things long ago.
  • Key shouldn’t abuse his position of power when he gets pissed off with media.

This was a fiasco from before the start and that seems to have reignited today. It’s a symptom if some of the worst of our politics and media.

Ambrose versus Key fundraising

Bradley Ambrose, the freelance journalist who recorded the ‘Teapot Tape’ conversation between John Key and John Banks, is being helped by crowd funding in order to take a defamation case against Key.

Give-a-little page

Help Bradley Ambrose fund his legal case against PM John Key.

As a result of the infamous Teapot Tape saga of 2011, work for freelance journalist and cameraman Bradley Ambrose dried up. Now he faces significant costs in his defamation case against PM John Key, including huge court fees. Can you help? He needs a total of $38,000 to be able to bring the case to court.

The current total is nearly $6,000.

The Givealittle page was created by Greg Treadwell:

I’m involved in this because I am a former journalist who sees the increasing pressure the fourth-estate role of journalists is under from the powerful in society. Mr Ambrose is fighting a matter of principle on his own and I think there are NZers out there who believe in the freedom of the media and would like to help. Irrespective of how the court finds, I think Mr Ambrose, whom I have never met, deserves support in his fight to clear his name. Any money left after Mr Ambrose has paid his court costs will go to the New Zealand Centre for Invesrtigative Journalism, a coalition of investigative journalists and academics that support, practise and promote investigative journalism.

I’m not sure what I think about this personally, I have mixed feelings.

The public meeting between Key and Banks, encouraged by media for several days before it took place, was fairly farcical.

Even when in ‘private conversation’ in a goldfish bowl Key and Banks shouldn’t have spoken of anything of consequence, it was a publicity stunt.

Ambrose shouldn’t have recorded the conversation – it’s claimed that was accidental – and I don’t think the recording should have been released if it wasn’t supposed to be recorded.

Key didn’t handle the aftermath well, and that’s what has led to this attempt to take a defamation case against him.

Give-a-little page

The Hon J A Banks v the Crown

Flipper at Kiwiblog posts

CA428/2014. The Hon J A Banks v the Crown.

Has the Crown capitulated?

That question will be answered today just after 10 am when the Court of Appeal sits in the Wellington HC’s courtroom #6.

He asks that because Paul Dacre QC, who has run the Crown’s case, has been replaced by Mike Heron, the Solicitor Genera – details here. We might find out this morning.

Flipper also recaps the case.

To recap, the Crown sent solicitor Rowan Butler to interview Dotcom over the new evidence (from two US businessmen) that Banks would present to the CoA. Banks’ counsel had observed the rules and disclosed that to the Crown.

The interview with Dotcom (in the presence of his then counsel, P Davison) took place on September 29, 2014, and Butler reported to Crown Counsel Dacre in a memorandum, also on September 29. The “Butler Memorandum” introduces a new Dotcom claim – that there were two meetings with Mr and Mrs Banks, one of June 5, 2010 and the other on June 9, 2010. He had earlier asserted that there was only one meeting on June 9. Wylie J, however, found that the lunch was on June 5, as later also attested by the US businessmen.

The crux of the date issue is that both Mr and Mrs Banks were proven to have been elsewhere on June 9, and could not have been at a “second” meeting/luncheon with Dotcom on that date.

Now, understand this: This information was known to the Crown on September 29, 2014. It was not disclosed to Jones/Banks, nor to the Court of Appeal when it heard the case on October 29, 2014 – one month later. In fact the
existence of the Butler memorandum was kept secret by the Crown until finally it was released (received by) to David Jones (Banks) on February 27, 2015.

On March 2, 2015 (the weekend intervened) David Jones filed a memorandum with the High Court requesting a section 347 (discharge) hearing. David Jones then went back to the Court of Appeal because it appears, on the face of evidence now belatedly disclosed by the Crown, that the Court was deliberately misled.

It has been reported that ‘the Court’ was very unhappy.

The Crown seem to be in a very awkward position on this.

It would be ironic if a Graham McCready instigated prosecution is thrown out after an appeal the day before he files for another prosecution, this time against John Key.

Using the courts for political hit jobs seems to be McCready’s aim these days.

Case aimed at bringing down the Government crashes

A private prosecution resulted in John Banks being convicted, and that forced his resignation from Parliament. There seemed significant intent to bring down the Government.

Mixed in with that was Kim Dotcom whose testimony was deemed reliable by the judge and contributed to the guilty verdict.

The case went to the Court of Appeal who overturned the verdict and ordered a re-trial.

The case has now crashed, and the Crown prosecution could get burned – there are claims they deliberately withheld evidence from the Court of Appeal. And there’s also claims there are some very unhappy judges.

NZ Herald reports John Banks retrial: Urgent hearing ordered.

The Court of Appeal has ordered an urgent hearing about whether John Banks should face a retrial on his false electoral return charge following the discovery of evidence which the Crown failed to disclose.

The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction after the “obsessed” detective work of Mr Banks’ wife, Amanda, who was stung by the trial judge’s opinion of her credibility when he preferred Dotcom’s wife Mona’s evidence about a lunch which was crucial to the case.

The Court of Appeal has now ordered a new hearing after Mr Banks’ lawyer David Jones, QC, filed an application to recall its ruling in October after he received fresh material from the Crown about the contentious lunch at the Dotcom mansion.

“If this material had been before the Court of Appeal, which it should have been, it is submitted it would have been a critical factor not only on the substantive appeal but also in the decision whether to order a retrial or not,” Mr Jones wrote in a separate application to the High Court.

In finding Mr Banks guilty, Justice Edwin Wylie said Dotcom was a good witness but was wrong about the date of the lunch and ruled it must have happened on June 5.

But when interviewed by Mr Butler about the new affidavits before the Court of Appeal hearing, Dotcom accepted the evidence of the US businessmen – including that donations were not discussed at the June 5 lunch. Instead, he said there was a second lunch – again on June 9 – at which the donations were discussed.

The interview with Dotcom was never disclosed to Banks’ legal team before the Court of Appeal hearing. The newly disclosed material contradicts all the evidence given at trial by the Dotcom witnesses, wrote Mr Jones.

And more, from ‘Flipper’ at Kiwiblog.

It is seems that Tuesday’s Chambers telephone conference with Justice Fogarty was about procedural matters over the section 347 application – matters that have now been overtaken by the CoA formally advising that it has recalled its earlier decision ordering a retrial.

This follows a request by Banks’ counsel David Jones, and in turn follows the belated disclosure of Dotcom’s invention of yet another luncheon date – a clumsy attempt to circumvent the US evidence that the luncheon took place on June 5, 2010 not June 9 as the Crown/Dotcom had claimed.

In mid-March Flipper posted:
”Flipper hears that there are some very upset people (seriously p****d off is the way one source describes them) at the Court of Appeal, particularly Justices E France, J Wild and F Miller.
Now, understand this: This information was known to the Crown on September 29, 2014. It was not disclosed to Jones/Banks, nor to the Court of Appeal when it heard the case on October 29, 2014 – one month later. In fact the existence of the Butler memorandum was kept secret by the Crown until finally it was released (received by) to David Jones (Banks) on February 27, 2015.
On March 2, 2015 (the weekend intervened) David Jones filed a memorandum with the High Court requesting a section 347 (discharge) hearing. Flipper hears that the Crown has now agreed to this hearing. But that is not all the bad news for the Crown. It is also said that David Jones has gone back to the Court of Appeal because it appears, on the face of evidence now disclosed by the Crown, that the Court was deliberately misled.”

Flipper awaits further whispers and will report ASAP. But the Crowns case and standing in the eyes of the CoA seem to have turned into custard – another major embarrassment for Crown Law.

It sounds very poor from Crown Law – they must be able to be trusted to act correctly and honourably and their credibility here has crashed.

Dotcom may not come out of this looking very good either. Is he just an inaccurate unreliable witness? Or has he deliberately lied to inflict his vindictiveness on Banks?

Some more lawyerly opinions.

Alex Masterly:

Mike Heron might have blown his chance for appointment to the High Court!

Complaints in these matters will be sent to the National Standards Committee in Wellington, chaired by Nigel Hampton QC rather than a branch standards committee.

If the conduct is considered by the National Standards committee to be misconduct, and concealing (as seems to be the case here) material information could be considered to be such especially in the case of appellate litigation.

If a complaint is made then because of the confidentiality provisions in the LCA regarding the conduct of standards committee business the matter will disappear until a decision is made as to whether the conduct complained of is a) not sufficient to be unsatisfactory conduct, b) is unsatisfactory conduct or is c) considered to be misconduct resulting charges being laid in the LCDT.
If it is a or b you might never hear about it. if c you might hear about it in 18-24 months unless the tribunal puts name suppression orders in place as it does from time to time.

Nookin:

1. Dotcom and Mona said that the conversation to which you referred took place at the dinner table during the lunch session.
2. Mona says that she was there and heard it.
3. Dotcom said that that Mona was not there and did not hear it.
4. John Banks says that that the discussion did not take place in those terms and he denies asking for 2 cheques. As I recall, Banks said that he had a private conversation with Dotcom which was inconclusive and, according to Banks, gave him no assurance that any money would be coming let alone $50,000 let alone two payments of $25,000.
5. Banks says that there were a couple of American businessmen at the table. Dotcom says that that there were not a couple of American business people at the table.
6. The judge believed Dotcom but says he was mistaken about the date of the meeting and the presence of Mona.
7. The two American businessmen have surfaced. They say that they were present at the meeting. They heard everything that was discussed. There was no discussion about campaign contributions. This directly contradicts Dotcom’s evidence.
8. The Court of Appeal concluded that if the evidence was produced at the first hearing, it may very well have resulted in a different outcome altogether.
9. The Crown knew that Dotcom had reversed his evidence, accepted that the Americans were present, accepted that there was no campaign discussions at that meeting but has now invented another luncheon meeting a few days later. The date he asserts as the date of the discussion is a day on which Mr Banks established, to the unquestioned satisfaction of the court, that he was campaigning elsewhere and that Mrs Banks, also to the unquestioned satisfaction of the court, was working.
10. Keeping Stock’s theory, and indeed the theory of a considerable number of people, is that the revelations of the American business people raise very serious doubts about the credibility of Mr Com. When you add the undisclosed evidence, you have Mr Com doing a complete about face on his denials about the presence of the American business people and adding an entirely new dimension, namely a second meeting on a date already rejected by the court as untenable. At no stage, over the very prolonged period that this matter has been debated, has anybody ever suggested that there was a second meeting.
11. Which ever way you look at it, the introduction of the new evidence from the Americans, the backdown by Mr Com and what appears to be a complete fabrication in the face of compelling evidence from the Americans do somewhat undermine the veracity of what Mr Com has been saying.

Some, of course, disagree.

Alex Masterly:

Nookin,
Well said.
A fair summary of the essential evidence.
I suspect that the Court of Appeal will not be happy with the late provision of the Barristers report.

Good news for Banks and Dotcom

It seems unlikely the news received by Kim Dotcom and John Banks over the last day or two is about the same thing, but there were coincidental claims of good news for both of them.

From Kiwiblog:

Nostradamus: Are you in a position to update us on how a certain judicial teleconference went yesterday?

Flipper: Yes, the source has delivered, and for Banksie it is good news which I shall post here in the morning.

More on that when Flipper fronts up.

I can’t tell you why (not yet) but today I have received the greatest news. I’m so happy right now. I just want to hug the entire world🙂

I’m not sure the entire world would be willing recipients but I get the drift. But it could be related to this news from Canada:

Kim Dotcom Megaupload case falters over sharing Canadian data

More than three years have passed since Canadian police seized 32 Megaupload servers on behalf of U.S. authorities seeking to prosecute company founder Kim Dotcom in one of the world’s largest copyright infringement cases.

Still, no one — except perhaps officials with the file-sharing company itself — knows what’s on the servers.

At issue now is how much of this seized Canadian data can be shared with the U.S. Department of Justice, which is very eager to press its case against Dotcom, who is currently fighting extradition from New Zealand, where he’s a permanent resident.

In a Toronto court on Monday, Crown attorney Moiz Rahman, acting on behalf of the U.S., recommended bringing in a U.S. “clean team” — an American term for a group of forensic investigators independent of the case — to sift through the 25 terabytes of data on the servers to pick out relevant files and separate them from personal information.

But Megaupload’s lawyer argued that the Ontario court can only ask the U.S. police officials on the so-called clean team to “double pinky promise” that they won’t share information not relevant to the case, since there’s no way to enforce the court’s decision south of the border.

The judge ordered both parties to do a cost comparison between the U.S. clean team versus. hiring Canadian experts before a decision will be made.

So that news seems a legal step on the way amongst many steps for Dotcom, hard to see it as “the greatest news”. Perhaps he’s referring to something else.

More explanation of the Dotcom data at Torrent Freak in MegaUpload Canada Servers Battle Reignites:

When Megaupload was raided in 2012, more than 1,100 servers were seized in the United States. However, an additional 32 were also locked down in Canada, the contents of which still remain a mystery. More than three years on and the U.S. government is again trying to get its hands on this hardware.

One of the oldest issues surrounds the hardware seized as part of the global operation to close down what was once the world’s largest centralized file-sharing operation.

The U.S. Government seized 1,103 servers at Carpathia’s hosting facility in the United States, equipment that is currently gathering dust in a Virginia storage facility. Also at issue is a lesser-discussed batch of servers seized in Canada.

On January 18, 2012, a judge in Ontario issued a warrant to seize the 32 servers located in an Equinix datacenter. As the case continued to build against Megaupload, Kim Dotcom and his associates, the U.S. government asked Canadian authorities to hand the hardware over, claiming that an internal Megaupload email revealed them to be “database / number crunching machines.”

A year later in January 2013, Megaupload protested the handing over of the hardware to U.S. authorities claiming that the servers contained a lot of information irrelevant to the case. Megaupload said an independent forensic examiner could examine the servers and determine their contents before any handover.

An Ontario court sided with Megaupload and refused to send the servers’ data to the United States. Instead, both sides were ordered to find a way to filter out irrelevant content.

Now, more than two years later, the issue of just how much of this seized content can be sent to the United States remains an issue. The matter reappeared before a Toronto court Monday, with fresh ideas on how progression can be made.

The extended court wrangles may eventually save Dotcom from prosecution, but they are also dominating his present and future. And they may prove futile in the end. Three years and counting.

Amanda Banks succeeds in John’s appeal

The conviction against John Banks for filing an incorrect electoral return has been overturned by the court of appeal, largely due to the efforts of his wife Amanda to clear her own name.

NZ Herald reported Wife clears Banks’ name:

The Court of Appeal yesterday overturned former Act leader Mr Banks’ conviction for filing a false electoral return, charges which ended his parliamentary career.

A jubilant Mr Banks paid tribute to his wife who he said had been a hero for her part in clearing his name.

Amanda Banks’ “obsessive” detective work saw her husband John Banks’ electoral fraud conviction quashed yesterday and answered a High Court judge’s doubts over her honesty.

Mr Banks was convicted in the High Court this year after failing to disclose donations from Kim Dotcom to his Auckland Mayoralty campaign in 2010.

Crucially, the High Court’s Justice Edwin Wylie believed testimony given by Dotcom’s wife Mona over that of Mrs Banks about what was said at a lunch where both were present and at which Dotcom said donations were discussed.

Mr Banks’ appeal introduced affidavits from two US-based businessmen who he says were at that lunch. The pair – David Schaeffer and Jeffrey Karnes – both said donations were not discussed at that lunch.

The Court of Appeal’s Justices Ellen France, John Wild and Forrest Miller said that if the new evidence had been accepted in the High Court trial “it likely would have changed the outcome”. The Court of Appeal’s decision notes that Mrs Banks “was stung by the judge’s opinion of her reliability”.

“She became quite obsessed, as she puts it, with identifying the two Americans.

“She recalled that a transpacific communications cable had been discussed at the lunch and scoured news articles on the topic, eventually finding one which mentioned that Mr Dotcom had endorsed such a project and was trying to organise a group of investors to fund it.”

Mrs Banks’ research also identified the second businessman and Mr Banks’ lawyers contacted the two men and secured sworn affidavits from them.

The trial has taken a heavy toll on Banks – it wrecked is political career – and on both John and Amanda who say the pressure contributed significantly to their marriage breaking up.

The Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial – but say the new evidence would likely have overturned the outcome of the case.

The original trial judge put the credibility of Dotcom and his wife Mona ahead of the credibility of the Banks and this seems to be a major factor behind him finding Banks guilty – apparently incorrect or false claims swung the trial and the judge guessed incorrectly who wasn’t telling the truth.

A re-trial would add further hardship to Banks but he may think it could be worth it if it further clears his and his wife’s names.

This has been a major legal wrangle over the often fudgy world of political donations – it seems to have been driven by politically motivation – to take down the Government by removing Bank’s support from the last term coalition.

Bank’s resignation from Parliament was too late to cause major problems,

Dotcom went on to finance and set up a party with a main aim being to get John Key and National out of Government.

Politics is often a dirty game, and there’s some very dirty looking things swirling around this case.

How does signing off an electoral return after a failed campaign compare to bringing down the Government?

John Banks resignation statement

Just after the news broke that John Banks would resign from Parliament he posted a statement on his Facebook page.

John Banks to resign from Parliament.

“Further to the of the decision of the High Court at Auckland last Thursday, I will resign the seat of Epsom effective from 5pm this Friday the 13th of June 2014” Mr Banks said.

“I will write to the Speaker tomorrow advising him of my resignation said Mr Banks.

“This timeframe allows a number of constituency, administrative and staffing matters in Epsom and Wellington to be dealt with over the next few days.

“I have been privileged to serve the people of Epsom and New Zealand at both a local level and in Wellington.

“I have given my heart and soul over four decades to making a worthwhile contribution to this country. I have always endeavoured to do the right thing. Consequently I am deeply saddened at this turn of events.

“As the matter is still before the Court I will be making no further comment” said Mr Banks.

Should Banks be convicted and should he resign?

In the John Banks case summary Justice Edwin Wylie said it was “reasonable to infer that Mr Banks requested that the donation be split so they did not stand out and so that the donations would be consistent with other donations of $25,000 that his campaign team was endeavouring to solicit”.

That seems a reasonable inference.

It’s not uncommon for politicians and parties to arrange donations and hide sources by a variety of means. Banks has been judged guilty of doing this illegally.

Banks is unlucky in that his case was pursued and prosecuted. Many complaints, including from the last two elections, disappear into a police black hole.

Labour leader David Cunliffe was found to have breach electoral law during the Christchurch East by-election but no action was taken.

It might be relatively tough on Banks but taking a legal dim view of electoral abuse has to start somewhere, with someone.

So I think a conviction for Banks would be in the interests of the greater good for our electoral system.

Banks can remain in Parliament unless/until he is convicted. That will be in August at the earliest. Unlike what some politicians are claiming and intimating no one can make him resign.

But for the greater good of Parliament (and probably the ACT Party) I think Banks should resign from Parliament.

Over the years I’ve not been a fan of Banks. I’ve heard him speak in person and met him once, last year at an ACT regional conference, and he came across well, as decent and genuine.

But he has erred with his electoral return, and he hasn’t handled the scrutiny of that well, nor has he handled his dealings with Kim Dotcom well.

I wouldn’t be surprised that Banks assesses his current situation and decides to resign. I think that would be a wise and correct decision.

Little to gloat about the Banks verdict

It’s a sad situation.  I think any very public political fall from grace is sad, regardless of the circumstances. The degree of scrutiny and level of criticism is always magnified.

It should be magnified to an extent for our elected representatives but I find the degree of scorn, criticism and gloating is a poor reflection on human behaviour. I find the glee with which many people like to stick the boot in is distasteful.

The cheering in some political circles is predictable, that’s what some want, to destroy the careers of opponents. They see this as a major victory. I think the whole circus is a defeat for decent democracy.

Graham McCready, the person responsible for the prosecution, was “ecstatic” over the verdict. He sung a smug song outside the court. That made it look like it was far more vindictive than noble of him in his pursuit of Banks.

I think Banks deserves some criticism and I have no reason to doubt the judge’s decision. I don’t know if it was a sound decision in a legal sense but there has to be a fairly high chance Banks was aware of the donations. It seems he sought donations from Dotcom and then turned a blind eye to the paperwork.

How many politicians have done this? A number of systems of separation have been used to keep an appearance of distance between politicians and the money they need to campaign with.

It’s really a difficult balance to achieve, especially for sole politicians who don’t have party organisations to do the fundraising for them. Even then I expect that rich donors will often like to speak to the person at the top, to get some sort of high level association in return for their generosity.

But it looks like Banks was not careful enough. And he got caught out, first by a political opposition who wanted a Government scalp at any cost, and then be a tenacious individual with questionable motives, especially when you see his reaction to success.

McCready looked like he was gleefully dancing on Banks’ political grave.

Surprisingly Banks himself looked more dignified than despondent after the verdict. He has looked like he has struggled early in this debacle but seemed to be well prepared for yesterday’s outcome.

Banks has been caught out and found guilty for sloppiness prior to returning as an MP and in action of little consequence, he had already lost the mayoralty contest when he fudged his electoral return.

Is Banks the only politician who has fiddled his paperwork on donations? His opponent Len Brown seems to have been smarter in the way he has disguised his donations. David Cunliffe was embarrassed by the use of a trust to officially separate himself from his donors. John Key is often involved in party fundraising events but claims to have nothing to do with the money handling.

Politicians and parties need money to survive and succeed.

Banks got caught out but the system didn’t make it easy for him, or the other politicians who secretly seek funds.

Banks didn’t help his case by the way he dealt with it when the political blowtorch was applied. When opponents sense a misstep or a weakness they dig deeper and try to hit harder with the shit shovel. This time they scored a victim.

It’s an ignominious end to another phase in the political careers of Banks. It will be awkward for John Key and National for the next two or three months.

It also taints the ACT Party even though they had nothing to do with the offence, Banks wasn’t even a party member at the time. But it has already forced ACT to re-invent itself and select a new Epsom candidate and also a new party leader.

It looks bad and is bad for Banks. Is it a fair and justified outcome? I don’t know. The ‘crime’ seems quite trivial and inconsequential to me, so the repercussions seem somewhat out of proportion.

This is politics, and it can be a vicious and uncompromising arena.

The parliamentary career of of Banks will fade away in some degree of disgrace mixed with misfortune in being the one who was found out and taken to task.

But this adds to the shoddy reputation of politicians. Although the offence had nothing to do with Parliament it has further dirtied the appearance of our top house of ill repute. And the blood isn’t just on Banks’ political floor, it’s on a number of hands and taints the whole house.

Banks. Key. Peters. Robertson. McCready.

All of them look worse for this exercise in political targeting and evasion.

Banks is ultimately responsible, but he is not the only one to have been hurt by this.

A decent democracy dashed and trashed. Again.

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