Serial litigant takes aim at Cunliffe

Last updated 08:41 05/12/2013
David Cunliffe
DAVID CUNLIFFE: The Electoral Commission has referred a tweet he sent on the day of the Christchurch East by-election to police.
Graham McCready Easter Ward Candidate

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Serial litigant Graham McCready has put Labour leader David Cunliffe on notice: if the police don't prosecute him for breaking electoral rules, then he will.

McCready said Cunliffe could expect court action within six months.

Cunliffe is being investigated by the police after the Electoral Commission referred a tweet he sent on the day of the Christchurch East by-election, encouraged people to vote for Labour Candidate Poto Williams.

"If you are resident in Christchurch East don't forget to vote today - for Labour and Poto Williams!" he wrote on Saturday.

Under Electoral Commission rules, no campaigning of any kind is allowed on election day.

Yesterday the commission announced it had referred Cunliffe to the police saying it believed he had breached the Electoral Act.

Police were yet to decide whether there were grounds for prosecution.

But McCready said if police took too long, then he would launch a private prosecution.

"I've diaried it for the end of May, because you have six months to make a prosecution," McCready said.

"I don't want to be in a situation like I was with [ACT leader John] Banks, where the police took a whole lot of time over deciding [whether to prosecute]."

McCready is no stranger to taking politicians to court.

Banks quit as a government minister last month, after a judge ordered him to stand trial over alleged electoral fraud.

The private prosecution was brought by McCready over donations made to Banks' 2010 bid for the Auckland mayoralty by SkyCity and Kim Dotcom.

Yesterday, Banks announced he would be stepping down as leader of the ACT party in March, and wouldn't be contesting the next election.

Cunliffe has said he would cooperate fully with the police investigation, but would not be commenting further, because it was "now part of a formal process".

He had earlier said the tweet was posted in error and quickly deleted.

"I take responsibility for that, the tweet was sent in error and deleted within seconds and it was reported as soon as possible to the returning officer," he said.

But McCready said there was no excuse.
"Stupidity comes to mind, and sadness that they [MPs] still can't seem to get it right."

He said it tainted the success of the by-election, but thought the tweet was unlikely to have affected the result.

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Williams won easily, with 8119 votes to Matthew Doocey's 3506 for National.

- Stuff

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