Charity returns NZ First 'donation'

Last updated 08:36 18/06/2008

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Cystic Fibrosis has returned a $10,000 donation made by NZ First, saying it is unclear if the party "has any right" to make a charitable donation on money wrongly spent at the last election.

The charity, one of nine understood to have received a share of the $158,000 owed by the Winston Peters-led party, announced its rejection of the money last night.

Cystic Fibrosis Association chief executive Kate Russell said the board and management, "mindful of public opinion surrounding the 'donation' of this money", had decided to return it.

It is the second time NZ First has had money returned to it. Starship Foundation chairman Bryan Mogridge opted, before Christmas, to give back all the cash – the amount of taxpayer funds the auditor-general found NZ First to have misused at the 2005 election – saying it was not given in the true spirit of philanthropy.

Before her change of heart, Ms Russell had publicly stated that if the money was being given to charity she would rather it was the charity she represented.

Last night Mr Peters would not comment on the latest rejection, saying the issue was a party matter to be dealt with by party officials.

Other parties found to have also spent unlawfully have opted to pay the money back to Parliamentary Service.

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- The Dominion Post

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