'I'm not going anywhere,' says defiant Horan

VERNON SMALL AND TONY WALL
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012

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NZ First MP Brendan Horan is refusing to be shamed into quitting Parliament after Winston Peters kicked him out of the party.

Mr Peters told Parliament he no longer had confidence in Mr Horan as an MP after receiving new information linked to allegations that Mr Horan had taken money from his dying mother.

He announced Mr Horan's expulsion at 3pm yesterday, telling Parliament he had received "substantive information . . . some as recently as 2.15 this afternoon".

"The information we have received leaves me in a position where I have no confidence in Mr Horan's ability to continue as a member of Parliament and he will be expelled from the NZ First caucus forthwith."

Mr Horan claimed to have had no warning from Mr Peters, who has the power to expel him from his caucus and his party, but not from Parliament.

A defiant Mr Horan, speaking through his lawyer, said he would stay on as an independent MP.

"His question was, ‘Why should I quit, what have I done wrong? Just because Mr Peters has expelled me, and I have been convicted in the court of Mr Peters'," Mr Horan's lawyer, Paul Mabey, told Radio Live.

"Mr Horan is the subject of unproven allegations which he completely denies. None of the allegations have ever been put to him directly nor has he been shown any evidence to support them."

Mr Mabey said he did not know what information Mr Peters had.

"Whether or not that information is true and whether it would stand up in a courtroom is another matter, but obviously it stood up in Mr Peters' courtroom.'

He said Mr Horan was feeling "understandably combative" but he was aware he came in as a NZ First list MP and that may influence his ultimate decision.

Leaving Parliament now, simply because Mr Peters said so, could be seen as an admission of wrongdoing or guilt and Mr Horan insisted he had done nothing wrong. "He's saying ‘I'm not leaving Parliament, I don't care what Winston Peters says. He can judge me. I'd rather be judged by people that have all the information."

The former television weatherman has been absent from Parliament since early last week after Mr Peters told him to sort out claims raised by his half-brother, Mana Ormsby.

Forensic accountants have been investigating the estate of Olwen Horan, who died in August, amid allegations large sums were misappropriated from her bank accounts during several years.

Mr Horan had welcomed the investigation, saying he wanted the allegations cleared up.

Mr Ormsby said he would not be laying a complaint with police until he heard back from the lawyer for his mother's estate, Mark Hornabrook.

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He believes Mr Peters made the right move sacking his brother.

He did not know what information Mr Peters had received which made him act.

Mr Ormsby said he wrote a summary report which he sent to Mr Hornabrook in Auckland with the bank statements. He claims about $80,000 was taken by his brother, including withdrawals from ATMs and TABs near his Mt Maunganui office.

As an independent backbench MP, Mr Horan will continue to collect an annual salary of $141,800 as well as expenses of $16,100 and an accommodation allowance of up to $24,000.

Mr Peters said Mr Horan had a duty to resign as an MP. "The allegations were of a nature that they should be treated seriously."

He had conducted a full inquiry into the matters relating to Mr Horan - first raised by the Sunday Star-Times last month.

He declined to comment further outside the House, saying he had made his statement under parliamentary privilege to avoid possible legal action. "I am not going to be subject to people spraying defamation writs."

If Mr Horan does quit he would be replaced by the next candidate on NZ First's list, disability worker Helen Mulford. She said yesterday she was "ready to go" if called up.

Mrs Horan was 87 when she died of cancer with less than $3000 in her current account, down from $259,000 in February 2007.

She signed a codicil, or amendment, to her will in July stating that the executor of the estate, her nephew, John Buckthought, be authorised to recover money from Mr Horan and his sister, Marilyn Bleackley, "loaned to them by me or taken from me by misadventure".

- The Dominion Post

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