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No Conflict of Interest: Smith Scraping the Barrel

No Conflict of Interest: Smith Scraping the Barrel

“There is no conflict of interest and never has been,” said David Cunliffe today in response to claims by National’s Nick Smith today regarding the Local Government and Environment Select Committee inquiry into the alleged accidental release of genetically engineered sweetcorn plants.

“My wife has never worked for a client involved in the 2000 sweetcorn issue.

“I asked to be removed from the committee for two reasons: “First, my work load needed to rebalanced so I could spend more time in my duties as Parliamentary Private for Finance, Revenue and Commerce.

“I was also concerned that any possible perception issues related to my wife’s work as an environmental lawyer may be used to undermine the integrity of the inquiry.

“I sought advice on the matter when I was assigned to the committee, and again when procedural work on the Sweetcorn Inquiry commenced.

“I took the initiative to remove myself after seeking the advice of the Clerk of the House. His advice was clear: No conflict exists or has existed. My wife’s client relationship was with a company that was not involved in the 2000 sweetcorn issue. This did not constitute a conflict of interest, nor was there any pecuniary gain as defined under Standing Orders.

Potential for possible perception issues existed in future – for example if my wife were to make a submission to the Committee on behalf of a client.

As there were a number of areas of potential future overlap with my wife’s general area of work it would be a sensible precaution for me to standdown from the committee.”

“I believe I acted appropriately in seeking to remove myself from the committee, even though no conflict of interest ever existed.” David Cunliffe said.

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