PM, officer targeted in new Banks case charges
Police are standing by their investigation into John Banks' donations, as retired Wellington accountant Graeme McCready files charges against a senior officer and PM John Key in a new twist of the case.
Banks was found guilty this month of filing a false electoral return relating to two $25,000 donations from internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom for his failed 2010 campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.
The judge found the charge was not proved in relation to a donation of $15,000 from SkyCity.
The former ACT MP was charged only after McCready launched a private prosecution against him.
Police had investigated the donations but said that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Banks.
McCready has now filed charges against Key - one of "conspiracy to defeat justice", and being an "accessory to knowingly making a return of election expenses containing one or more false particulars".
McCready has alleged the prime minister conspired to prevent Banks being charged.
The second charge related to the prime minister refusing to read the police report, remaining "wilfully blind" to its contents, McCready said.
He has also filed the same charges against Detective Inspector Mark Benefield, who headed the police investigation into Banks' donations, and filed the criminal assessment report.
An additional charge of "conspiracy to defeat justice" was also filed against Banks.
Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess has defended police handling of the investigation.
"Police consider that the staff involved in the John Banks investigation acted professionally and impartially in carrying out this inquiry.
"We have the utmost faith in the integrity of the investigation and the staff involved will be fully supported in any proposed court process."
The Prime Minister was not available for immediate comment. Key is on his way to the United States to meet with President Barack Obama and other dignitaries.
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said he believed the charges were "very unlikely" to succeed but that had not stopped McCready in the past.
"The charges look a bit ridiculous. Decisions about prosecutions and the course of justice are dealt with by the police, Crown Law, and Mr Banks has been through the process, so I just can't quite see where he's going," English told reporters in Parliament this morning.
"But, you know, he's a citizen, he's been successful before and I suppose he has a right to have a say."