NZ First leader Winston Peters is under pressure to explain emails contradicting his denials of receiving money from billionaire businessman Owen Glenn.
A furious Mr Peters yesterday stood by his categoric denial in February that he had ever received money from Mr Glenn and labelled reports calling those denials into question "malicious lies".
Emails between Mr Glenn and his public relations adviser in New Zealand, Steve Fisher of Baldwin Boyle, published in the New Zealand Herald, include a disclosure from Mr Glenn that he gave money to NZ First.
At a press conference in February, Mr Peters flatly denied Mr Glenn had given money to the party. "It is a downright lie to claim by innuendo that any money came to NZ First from Owen Glenn," he said.
During a lengthy press conference, Mr Peters also held up a large card with the words "No" on it in response to questions about donations from Mr Glenn.
Mr Fisher confirmed to The Dominion Post yesterday that he had been in email contact with Mr Glenn in February, though he no longer had copies of those emails.
Advice quoted in the emails was in line with what he been advising Mr Glenn at the time, though he could not recall "the exact wording" and did not know if Mr Glenn had given money to NZ First. He did not know how the e-mails had entered the public arena.
Mr Glenn could not be contacted but in reports at the weekend did not deny giving money to NZ First.
Mr Peters initially told The Dominion Post yesterday it was wasting its time pursuing what he labelled "malicious lies". He then called back to warn against suggesting in today's article that he had refused to answer questions.
Referring to reports in The Dominion Post about Tauranga man Tommy Gear, who is on the parliamentary payroll as a NZ First staffer, Mr Peters said he would not offer an explanation till the newspaper explained its motivation in running those stories.
"You're not going to be pulling these narrow focused conspiracies against us. It's not going to be happening ... Why is your paper engaged in lying?"
In May, NZ First filed a return reporting "nil donations". Anonymous donations of less than $10,000 do not have to be disclosed under electoral laws by political parties and many donations are legally channelled through trusts.
Meanwhile Peters flew to Fiji today, his chance to shine on the diplomat stage undermined by the furore.
Peters lashed out at reporters at Auckland International Airport on his way to a Pacific Islands Forum ministerial contact group meeting in Suva.
The group will meet members of the interim Fiji government and others in the first visit by a group of Forum Foreign Ministers since the December 2006 coup.
- With NZPA
- The Dominion Post
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