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Brethren group face police probe over election


25 October 2005

Brethren group face police probe over anti-Green propaganda

The Green Party is pleased the Chief Electoral Officer has upheld its complaint that the Exclusive Brethren's "Beware" pamphlet may have breached the Electoral Act.

In a letter to the Green Party Chief Electoral Officer David Henry said he has referred the complaint about the pamphlet to the police for further investigation.

Mr Henry said: "I have concluded that the leaflet does appear to promote the party vote for National. I have decided to refer the matter to police for investigation as to whether an person has breached section 221 of the Electoral Act 1993, and if so, whether any prosecution in terms of section 221(4) is appropriate."

Co-Leader Rod Donald says: "while I am pleased with the outcome of the complaint, there is no way this will undo the damage done to the Green Party by the leaflets during the election campaign.

"To add insult to injury, Even if the 'full force' of the law comes down on the Exclusive Brethren they will only face a maximum $3000 fine.

"Their prosecution will be nothing more than a slap on the wrist with a wet pamphlet for the obviously wealthy members of the church.

"In our view their underhanded behaviour should be a summary offence, which would result in a fine of up to $100,000.

"Clearly this law needs to be changed as the penalty provides little discouragement for undermining a free and fair electoral process.

"However, the real punishment for the Exclusive is that they have failed in their goal to get a National government in place probably due to the unchristian way they went about it."

"Meanwhile we continue to try to get to the bottom of exactly how much knowledge and involvement the National Party had in this campaign.

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