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MP Horan changes tack over release of phone details

ANDREA VANCE AND TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012
tdn horan stand
BRENDAN HORAN: MP and former television weatherman.

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Under-fire MP Brendan Horan has consulted police and the Privacy Commissioner about the leak of his phone records.

The bill from his taxpayer-funded mobile phone showed numerous calls to the TAB. But Mr Horan said he had not broken any rules and the calls added up to only about $20.

Mr Horan appeared to be pointing the finger at NZ First leader Winston Peters yesterday, saying the leaking of his calls "for political gain" was "grossly irresponsible and reckless".

Mr Horan originally authorised the release of the records by Parliamentary Service, after Mr Peters asked to see them.

Now Mr Horan says the leaking of telephone numbers "jeopardised the protection of innocent people" who had contacted him confidentially.

Police are not investigating but a spokeswoman confirmed Mr Horan had approached them for advice.

The privacy watchdog could not be contacted for comment.

Mr Horan said radio journalist Barry Soper had handed back a copy of the records. "I have asked Mr Peters' office to do the same and am waiting on his response."

Mr Peters expelled the former weatherman last week over allegations surrounding money from his dead mother's estate.

Mr Horan was immediately disqualified from the party when Parliament's Speaker, Lockwood Smith, declared him an independent MP on December 4, Mr Peters said.

After meeting last night, the NZ First board released a statement saying that Mr Horan, "by his own action in notifying the Speaker that he be regarded as an independent Member of Parliament, had in doing so, relinquished his membership" of the party.

Mr Peters said he was not aware of the complaint to the Privacy Commissioner.

Mr Horan is staying on in Parliament and says he wants to clear his name. He and Mr Peters will come face to face today at Question Time.

"I've done nothing wrong, so why should I resign from Parliament," Mr Horan said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key has opened the door to reviving the so-called "waka jumping" law.

"It's easy to identify the problem and quite difficult to identify the solution," Mr Key said. "If we could write rules that were coherent and sustainable, I suspect there'd be quite widespread consensus across Parliament . . . It worries when you see an MP leaving and all of a sudden that changes the proportional representation of Parliament that the voters of New Zealand thought carefully about before they voted."

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The law was passed after some NZ First MPs jumped ship so they could retain their ministerial portfolios after the 1996 National-NZ First coalition fell apart.

But the legislation had a sunset clause and has since expired.

- Fairfax Media

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