Supporters rally around Hubbards

BY EMMA BAILEY
Last updated 05:00 24/06/2010
ANGRY: John Funnell says Allan Hubbard and his wife Jean  have given more than $200 million to charity and he and other supporters are appalled at the way the Hubbards have been treated.
MANAWATU STANDARD

ANGRY: John Funnell says Allan Hubbard and his wife Jean have given more than $200 million to charity and he and other supporters are appalled at the way the Hubbards have been treated.

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A national advertising campaign and a million-dollar fighting fund have been set up by supporters to clear Allan Hubbard's name.

Half-page ads are running today in The Dominion Post, Christchurch's The Press and The New Zealand Herald, commissioned by supporters of Mr Hubbard who have rallied since the news broke on Sunday that Commerce Minister Simon Power had placed Mr Hubbard and his wife, Jean, under statutory management, along with seven charitable trusts and their private investment company Aorangi Securities.

Thirty years ago Mr Hubbard gave now successful Taupo man John Funnell the opportunity to own a helicopter business which in turn has saved hundreds of lives through its emergency service helicopter operations in the central North Island.

"I don't think there is a bad bone in Mr Hubbard's body," Mr Funnell said yesterday. "I had not heard one word in my 60 years of life that would cast doubt on him. This is a man who, along with his wife, has given more than $200 million to charity. I think it is appalling what has happened.

"I have done the Funnell smell test and that said something is very wrong and it is not in the Hubbard camp."

Mr Funnell spent yesterday on the phone to other supporters who put the advertising campaign together, which calls on people to email Prime Minister John Key or Mr Power telling them what the Hubbards have done for them or record their story on the Facebook fan page Help Allan Hubbard.

"I had a call from a supporter who said if money is an issue he has half a million dollars for a fighting fund and can get another half a million from other supporters if necessary."

Timaru mechanic Rob Clarke, 30, started up another Facebook group, Leave Allan Hubbard Alone. Last night there were more than 900 members. Mr Clarke has no money invested with Mr Hubbard or South Canterbury Finance.

"It's awesome. I am blown away by how many people have joined up.

"I think he is getting a hard deal. He is a legend here and the most unlikely guy to be ripping someone off."

Timaru lawyer Edgar Bradley said his friend of more 50 years had a long-term view. "If a sometime criticism of Allan is a lack of documentation then it must be remembered he is a product of the days when trust was more important than paperwork. Sadly the reverse is now the case."

Mr Hubbard and family and supporter Albert Makary were advised by lawyers not to speak yesterday.

Serious Fraud Office chief executive Adam Feeley said four members from his office, including himself, left Timaru on Tuesday night after securing all the documents they needed over two days. He could not elaborate on how long the investigation would take.

PRIME MINISTER WAS 'AWARE OF DECISION'

Allan Hubbard's view that Prime Minister John Key would have not have put him into statutory management appears to have been misjudged.

Mr Hubbard this week said the Government's move to place him and his wife Margaret under the control of statutory managers was "totally and utterly unreasonable".

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On Tuesday the Timaru businessman said that the Government's move would not have happened under Mr Key's guidance.

The prime minister was in South Africa to attend the football World Cup over the weekend, including watching the All Whites draw 1-1 with Italy. On Sunday Commerce Minister Simon Power announced the statutory management.

"I think if John Key had been there he wouldn't [have done it]. He's a practical person, he would have seen this as nonsense," Mr Hubbard said. He knew Mr Key but did not speak to him regularly.

But Mr Key said: "No, he's not right. I was advised before I left the country that it was likely ministers would have to group together on Sunday to make that decision. I was aware of the decision they made and I support them in the decision they made."

- with ALAN WOOD

- © Fairfax NZ News

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