MP Brendan Horan has filed a High Court affidavit in which he says his political career is "in tatters" over claims he stole money from his mother, and believes the executor of her estate should be removed because he is not handling the allegations fairly as he will not listen to Horan.
It is the first time the former NZ First List MP has responded to the allegations in depth since the Sunday Star-Times broke the story in November. Horan was sacked from NZ First by leader Winston Peters, but is resisting calls to resign from Parliament, saying he has done nothing wrong.
He and his sister, Marilyn Bleackley, have jointly applied to the High Court at Tauranga to have John Buckthought, their mother Olwen Horan's nephew, removed as executor.
Horan says in his affidavit he has "lost confidence in [Buckthought's] ability to administer the estate in an even-handed way".
He wants the Public Trust to take over running the estate, and new forensic investigators appointed to go over his mother's financial records.
Horan says in the affidavit he will have to sit down with the new executor and "go through the records to essentially prove my innocence. I have no doubt I can do this".
A month before she died in August, Olwen Horan signed a codicil to her will authorising Buckthought to retrieve money loaned to Horan and Bleackley or "taken by misadventure".
She had obtained a medical certificate signed by two doctors to say she was in her right mind when she did this, but Horan says in his affidavit he has "real concerns about my mother's state of mind in relation to the will, and more particularly the codicil".
He says he has a medical report from June saying she had short-term memory loss, and is waiting for further medical records.
Sources say it is difficult to have an executor removed, and usually would happen only if there were serious allegations such as misappropriating money.
Horan does not accuse Buckthought of behaving improperly, only that he "was not interested in listening to my explanations" and at one point had not allowed him access to his mother's house.
He also accuses Buckthought of implying he had taken money by telling the Star-Times in November "there's a lot of money that can't be accounted for".
Buckthought declined to comment, other than to say he had never accused anyone of stealing money and was trying to carry out his late aunt's wishes to the best of his ability.
Most of Horan's affidavit deals with criticism of his half-brother, Mana Ormsby, who he says is behind the allegations.
"I do not say this to denigrate him, but to simply provide context," Horan writes.
Ormsby declined to respond to any of Horan's allegations.
The affidavit claims Ormsby believes he has an entitlement to some of his mother's Australian lottery win. Olwen Horan won around $1m worth of prizes in 1999 and Horan says Ormsby has claimed that he (Ormsby) had paid for a portion of the winning ticket. He says Ormsby has become obsessed with the idea that money has been stolen.
Horan says in the affidavit that he was surprised his mother did not have more money in her account when she died, "however I considered that to be her business".
He says his mother "simply spent her winnings over the years. She enjoyed her lottery win and she enjoyed spending".
He confirmed in the affidavit that he used his mother's bank cards on occasion, to pick up groceries and get cash for her.
He says he never used them without her permission and always provided a receipt.
Under the heading "mum's gambling", Horan writes that she "always enjoyed a flutter on the horses", never missed a week buying a Lotto ticket and always had cash in her wallet.
"Cash withdrawals by mum, following her lottery win, are a consistent theme through all of the bank records I have examined," he writes.
He says that as she got older and less mobile, she would use the TAB at Bayfair, Mt Maunganui, as an ATM for convenience. She would also bet on horses there and play the pokies. Horan says he, too, has a TAB account, but doesn't have a gambling addiction.
The affidavit claims Olwen Horan had become extremely unwell by May last year, and Ormsby, who was living with his mother, refused them entry to the home.
"I was extremely upset, given how unwell she was."
Horan says he was present at the hospital when his wife raised the issue of the alleged stealing with Olwen Horan. "She responded, ‘what a load of rubbish'."
He says in the affidavit his mother was a strong woman, and "if she believed I had somehow behaved inappropriately she would always tell me off in no uncertain terms".
Horan says that in 2008 he underwent two operations for a serious knee injury and couldn't walk or work.
His mother provided financial assistance, "taking it upon herself to make some of our mortgage repayments".
In 2009, she loaned Horan $12,000 and later $5000, and he was repaying the money. Shortly before her death she pointed out that $700 was outstanding. After her death, "we paid $350 to the executor to help with the upkeep of the house," Horan writes.
In the affidavit, Horan responds to a number of transactions that have been flagged as suspicious in a preliminary report by BDO Spicers, which has been instructed to carry out a forensic investigation by the lawyers for Olwen Horan's estate (see sidebar, above).
Horan says cheques he received from his mother were part of the "normal incidence of family life".
Horan also denies in the affidavit that he offered $25,000 to settle the dispute.
He concludes by saying: "I loved my mother dearly . . . I find it utterly repugnant that her life is being traversed in such a public way."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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