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PM caught red handed over backroom deal

Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition

11 May 2001

PM caught red handed over backroom deal

Margaret Wilson's admission that Prime Minister Helen Clark used taxpayers money to make an out-of-court settlement will anger many New Zealanders, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

"The Prime Minister has been exposed for using double standards, by requiring a dual gagging clause in an attempt to conceal the settlement from the public. She used taxpayers funds to make a settlement where she had libelled a private citizen who had been approached by one of her MPs to dig dirt on Dover Samuels.

"In National's view this most certainly does not meet the Cabinet Office Manual requirement that Clark was acting in her role as Prime Minister. She was clearly acting as the Leader of the Labour Party, in an attempt to disguise the fact that a backbench MP, Chris Carter, was digging dirt on one of his colleagues.

"This is Labour Party dirty linen, as opposed to a Minister acting in the interest of this country. National demands that the Prime Minister repay the $55,000 and any legal costs incurred by herself and Mr Yelash in achieving this settlement.

"No amount of bullying or threats by the Prime Minister will persuade New Zealanders that she is not guilty of the most appalling double standard in this case.

"In no way is this case similar to cases where Ministers, such as Helen Clark and Simon Upton as Ministers of Health were facing court action in relation to Hepatitis C, and I as Health Minister faced court action in relation to Hepatitis B from Hepatitis Foundation director Sandor Milne. These and other cases clearly fit the criteria where Ministers were acting in their portfolio responsibilities, and fulfilling their statutory requirements.

"If the logic in Ms Wilson's release today were followed to its logical conclusion then the Prime Minister could defame virtually anybody and use the wide definition of a Prime Minister's role to have the taxpayer pick up the bill.

"This secret settlement sets the most obscene double standard in relation to the Prime Minister's sanctimonious claims that she would outlaw secret payments and confidential payouts. She has been caught red handed and should pay back the money involved in this case and admit she has fallen short of the standards she claimed she would uphold," Mrs Shipley said.

Ends


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