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Letter To Speaker Regarding Taito Philip Field

National's Letter To Speaker Regarding Taito Philip Field

19 July 2006

Hon Margaret Wilson
House of Representatives
Parliament House

Dear Madam Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 392 I wish to raise a matter of privilege with you concerning the Member of Parliament for Mangere - Taito Phillip Field.
As you will be aware the Prime Minister has released the report of Dr Noel Ingram QC, The Report to the Prime Minister Upon Inquiry Into Matters Relating to Taito Phillip Field (the report).

The report identifies a range of very serious allegations against Mr Field. These allegations include assertions that Mr Field breached Parliamentary privilege by committing contempts of Parliament pursuant to Standing Orders 399 and 400. The report explicitly states that several of those allegations have not been able to be inquired into as a consequence of an inability to compel the attendance of witnesses – thus leaving the allegations unanswered.

I am particularly concerned that Dr Ingram’s report, at paragraph 9, states that:

…I have not enjoyed the power to compel the attendance of witnesses before me to give evidence, or to administer oaths in relation to those who I do examine or interview, or to compel the production of documents. Those limited powers are to be contrasted with the powers to administer oaths, to compel attendance, and to compel the production of documents which are enjoyed by Royal Commissions and by Commissions of Inquiry appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908.

Dr Ingram goes on to say at paragraph 11 that:

Those limitations associated with the nature of any appointment have had a practical effect over the course of the inquiry. Various intended witnesses to whom requests for interviews were made either expressly declined to be interviewed or ignored the request. Within this report, intended witnesses who did not participate are identified. In some instances the supply of documents
was sought but not provided. As a consequence of that lack of co-operation, in relation to some aspects of the inquiry, in some instances I have needed to proceed on the basis of inference to be drawn from established facts rather than being able to have regard to either oral statements or documentary evidence, while in other instances I have been unable to reach a conclusion.

The report also raises several questions over his conduct as an MP. Dr Ingram expresses concern at paragraph 493 that:

…four Thai people may have worked on Mr Field’s house in Samoa, providing plastering and painting services during May and June 2005, out of gratitude for or some other sense of obligation in relation to the assistance which Mr Field had provided in the immigration applications of those people. None of those four Thai people agreed to be interviewed by me. For the reasons provided in Section 1.3 of the report, I have had no powers to compel the attendance of any person to give evidence in this inquiry. If the allegations in relation to further Thai labour working on Mr Field’s house in Samoa are to be resolved, it would be necessary for an authority with appropriate powers of investigation to inquire further.

In paragraph 498 Dr Ingram finds that Mr Field significantly underpaid a Thai painter, Mr Chaikhunpol, for painting work carried out on a property owned by Mr Field. Dr Ingram states that there is “the further inference that it was out of gratitude or some sense of obligation in relation to the assistance which Mr Field had provided in Mr Chaikhunpol’s immigration applications that Mr Chaikhunpol undertook that painting of 51 Church Street in August 2005 at a price substantially below market rates”.

Dr Ingram makes a similar finding in paragraph 501 concerning another property owned by Mr Field. “I find that Mr Chaikhunpol was substantially underpaid for that work. There is the inference that Mr Chaikhunpol undertook that painting at a price substantially below market rates out of gratitude or some other sense of obligation for the assistance which Mr Field had provided in relation to Mr Chaikhunpol’s immigration applications. “

I am also concerned about Dr Ingram’s comments in paragraphs 504-507 (below) which suggest that Mr Field was present at a meeting the purpose of which was to establish who within the group attending that gathering had leaked to the media the allegation that Mr Field provided immigration assistance in return for labour on houses owned by Mr Field.

[504] In Section 4.5 of the report, I have identified a gathering which took place at the home of Ms Thaivichit in Mangere on 2 October 2005, shortly after the publication in the media of allegations concerning Mr Field benefiting from Thai labour in New Zealand. That gathering was attended by inter alia Mr Field, Ms Thaivichit, and Mr Chaikhunpol. It has been alleged in information received by the New Zealand Police and provided to me that four other Thai people, whom I identify in Section 4.5 of the report, also attended that gathering. All of those four together with Mr Chaikhunpol had received immigration assistance from Mr Field.

[505] The alleged purpose of the gathering, as stated in that information received by the New Zealand Police, was to establish who within that group attending that gathering had leaked to the media the allegation that Mr Field provided immigration assistance in return for labour on houses owned by Mr Field.

[506] My investigation into that matter has been unsatisfactory because five of the people allegedly present at that gathering on 2 October 2005 declined to be interviewed by me in relation to that matter.

[507] As is recorded in Section 4.5 of the report, that state of affairs leaves an incomplete investigation into the following issues: whether the purpose of the gathering was to identify the source of the allegations appearing in the media which involved Mr Field and Mr Chaikhunpol; whether Mr Chaikhunpol’s moving from his former accommodation was a result of an effective edict from Mr Field; and, a separate but related matter, whether those who were identified as being part of the gathering, but who declined to participate in the inquiry, did work on houses owned by Mr Field in consideration for Mr Field’s assistance on immigration matters. Given the limitation on my powers of inquiry, as identified in Section 1 of the report, if any of those issues is to be pursued further, that task would need to be undertaken by some appropriately authorised authority.

Dr Ingram’s report raises many issues of serious concern relating to the actions undertaken by a Member of Parliament. I ask you to consider this matter and to determine whether there is a question of privilege which should be addressed by the Privileges Committee.

Yours sincerely

Don Brash
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the National Party

cc Taito Phillip Field


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