Attorney-General Should Step Aside From Wine-box
NEWS RELEASE: URGENT
The Editor of Investigate magazine is calling on Attorney-General Margaret Wilson to step aside from any further role in the Winebox controversy, after discovering what he alleges is a potentially major conflict of interest.
Ian Wishart's discovery follows several weeks of research, prompted by Ms Wilson's role in whispering advice to Serious Fraud Office boss David Bradshaw when he was being grilled by Parliament's Law and Order Select Committee in August. Earlier today, Radio New Zealand quoted Ms Wilson as standing behind the SFO's decision not to release legal opinion on the winebox.
"I found it extremely odd that the Attorney-General was breaching constitutional protocol in that way," Mr Wishart said this afternoon, "especially given the information I now have."
"Back in 1986 and 1987, Margaret Wilson was President of the Labour Party. At the same time, the party was collecting massive political campaign donations from a number of business people, including people associated with the merchant bank Fay Richwhite, now implicated in the Winebox transactions that the Serious Fraud Office is refusing to prosecute.
"Today, former Prime Minister David Lange and I discussed the circumstances of the donations, and he confirmed to me that Ms Wilson "almost certainly knew" the source of the campaign donations, which were in the region of $250,000 a time. Mr Lange said he left it to the Party hierarchy to deal with.
"In my opinion, the current Attorney-General must have a conflict of interest in regard to either supporting or opposing the Serious Fraud Office over the Winebox fiasco, and must declare that conflict of interest tonight and take no further part in the matter.
"It is of no material consequence whether the Minister believes a conflict of interest exists or not - the position of the Attorney-General must be above reproach in a matter such as this, and public confidence in the justice system and in the integrity of Parliament demands that she declare a conflict of interest.
"It may be that political campaign funding organised by persons associated with Fay Richwhite has absolutely no bearing on the decision not to prosecute over the Winebox, but it may also be that were such a case to be brought to trial that evidence of such an arrangement may emerge. None of us are to know, but it places the Attorney-General in an impossible position. Again, the public interest runs paramount to any Ministerial feelings on this matter."
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