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Banks fought donation files release

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 17/10/2012
John Banks and John Key
ACT leader John Banks and Prime Minister John Key.

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John Banks opposed the release of police files on the Dotcom donations investigation.

The ACT leader has insisted he has "nothing to fear, nothing to hide" over the donations row, but documents tabled in Parliament yesterday show that his lawyer fought against the publication of the statement he gave police when they investigated anonymous gifts to his 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign.

The police dossier was made public last month - but his entire statement was censored.

Other witness statements, including that of Kim Dotcom and his lawyer Greg Towers, were made public with their consent.

The documents tabled in Parliament show Mr Banks' lawyer, David Jones, QC, fought the publication of not just his statement, but the entire file.

Mr Jones wrote to police in August arguing it would be used by "political adversaries" and for "irresponsible commentary".

He said releasing the file would "tend to bring the criminal justice system into disrepute".

Although police did not press charges, the donations scandals has continued to plague the Epsom MP.

He was accused of accepting $85,000 in gifts from Dotcom, SkyCity casino and a radio station but registering them as anonymous.

The files revealed that police did believe the law was broken, but had insufficient evidence to lay charges.

The witness statements also reveal Mr Banks told Mr Towers in February that he could not publicly support Dotcom because of his previous "support" during the election campaign.

Dotcom, who is fighting extradition to the United States on internet piracy charges, had asked for his help while on remand in Mt Eden Prison.

Mr Banks was also caught out when he told the media he hardly knew the tech mogul. Dotcom went on to detail how they had lunched together and Mr Banks had even made a toast at his birthday party.

The dossier also showed Mr Banks was handed the $15,000 cheque by SkyCity executives in a branded envelope - it was registered as anonymous.

Labour's deputy leader Grant Robertson, who obtained the documents, is calling on Prime Minister John Key to sack Mr Banks.

"This is further evidence that John Banks has lied to New Zealanders about this case . . . Mr Key needs to sack John Banks if he is to uphold standards of ministerial behaviour."

Last month Mr Banks' press secretary told a reporter that Mr Banks was not responsible for what police made public. However, police contradicted this.

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Yesterday she said he would not comment.

- The Dominion Post

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