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Govt. covers up conflict of interest in Corngate

Govt. covers up conflict of interest in Corngate

National is crying foul that David Cunliffe, the senior Labour MP and deputy chair of the Select Committee undertaking the 'Corngate' inquiry, didn't disclose that his wife acted for a biotechnology company involved in a GM maize contamination case.

"It is scandalous that Mr Cunliffe failed to disclose a conflict of interest involving his wife, Karen Price, to the committee, but instead used his position to frustrate the inquiry at every step," says National's Environment spokesman, Nick Smith.

"David Cunliffe was pivotal in watering down the terms of reference, blocking the appointment of a technical advisor, cutting communication between committee members and the technical adviser and stopping further testing of the corn.

"His sudden resignation last week was explained away by the Government as a 'workload' issue. This was clearly a smokescreen for the conflict of interest over his wife, a conflict that should have been disclosed.

"The irony is that in an inquiry looking at whether the Government was involved in a cover-up, the Government has covered up the real reason for its lead MP resigning.

"These actions also contradict Helen Clark's pre-election commitment to a "policy of total disclosure" over the select committee inquiry into Corngate.

"This is like a judge not declaring that his wife is acting for the defence. Mr Cunliffe's conduct calls into question the many decisions made by the select committee on this inquiry over the last six months, a committee on which Mr Cunliffe has been very influential.

"If this inquiry is now to have any credibility, it should revisit all the decisions involving Mr Cunliffe."

Dr Smith says he is seeking advice on a possible breach of privilege case against Mr Cunliffe.

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