Manure thrown at John Banks
The mud was being slung at former ACT leader John Banks before he even made it through the High Court doors.
Banks is facing charges relating to anonymous donations made by internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and casino operator SkyCity to his failed 2010 Auckland mayoralty bid.
While legal questions centred on whether Banks knew the source of the donations, protesters debated whether it was a bucketful of manure or dirt that veteran protester Sam Bracanov splattered on the politician.
Banks later confirmed it was manure and that it was Bracanov who threw it at him, but said he would not press charges.
"It came out of the blue, it was a bit of a shock," he said last night. "Having said that, there is a first time for everything. That was a first time for me having horse manure poured over my head."
After a short delay allowing for Banks to change his suit, the case began and offered a glimpse into political fundraising.
The Banks mayoralty campaign team targeted National Business Review rich listers for $25,000 apiece, the court heard.
Lance Hutchison, campaign treasurer, said anyone on the team could request donations, including Banks.
A $15,000 donation from SkyCity and two $25,000 cheques from Dotcom were recorded as anonymous.
Banks never asked where anonymous donations came from, Hutchison said.
"They [anonymous donations] are made in such a way the candidate doesn't know who made them."
Hutchison said SkyCity had requested its donation be anonymous, but he did not know Dotcom had contributed money at the time.
Dotcom, his estranged wife Mona, and SkyCity are among 16 witnesses to be called by the prosecution.
In the opening address, Crown prosecutor Paul Dacre, QC, said Banks met Dotcom and a SkyCity executive to discuss donations.
It was alleged Banks requested Dotcom split his donation into two cheques so it could be filed as anonymous.
"He engineered the situation to ensure the identity of the donors would not be disclosed," Dacre said.
Banks' lawyer, David Jones, QC, said his client believed the electoral expense returns were "true and correct" when filed.
The trial is the result of a private prosecution brought by retired Wellington accountant Graham McCready.
Banks is charged with "transmitting a return of electoral expenses knowing that it is false in a material particular".
The High Court case is set down for 10 days.
Banks quit ACT's leadership position and his ministerial role last year after he was ordered to stand trial.
Auckland police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said police were aware of the manure-throwing incident and were speaking to witnesses.The person was not in police custody and police were making inquiries to establish his identity.
In November 2012, when Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, were visiting Auckland, Bracanov, who has a history of protesting during royal visits, was arrested and charged with behaving in a manner that implied he was preparing to commit a crime.
The crime would have been covering the royal couple with a bucket of horse manure mixed with water, which he had blended into "a porridge", but police spotted him before he could act.