ACT leader John Banks will stand trial for knowingly filing a false electoral return before a judge but no jury in May.
Banks appeared this morning in a call-over at the High Court in Auckland charged with "transmitting a return of electoral expenses knowing that it is false in a material particular".
Banks has denied the charge.
His lawyer, David Jones, QC, applied for the trial to be heard by a judge alone rather than a jury. Justice Timothy Brewer granted the request and set a 10-day trial starting on May 19.
There was a brief delay as Banks showed his inexperience with the criminal justice system. He did not stand in the dock when his name was called and remained in the public gallery. The hearing began after he was called forward by the judge, into the area where the accused normally stands.
Banks is facing trial after a District Court judge ruled in October he should be tried after three donations to his failed 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign were recorded as anonymous. Two of $25,000 were from internet mogul Kim Dotcom and one was $15,000 from SkyCity.
The ruling came after a private prosecution brought by retired Wellington accountant Graham McCready, who said Banks knew the donations were not made anonymously and that designating them as such was against the law.
Banks' defence team attempted to have the decision to prosecute thrown out, but a High Court judge, in a decision released last week, disagreed and confirmed the trial, transferring it to the High Court's jurisdiction because of its importance.
Although Banks resigned as a government minister in October after the Auckland District Court ruling. He announced last week he would resign as leader of the ACT party in March and would not contest the next general election.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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