One name is notably absent from the list of errant Ministers who were stood down, sacked or resigned from Helen Clark’s cabinet.
This person was not just accused of doing something unethical, and possibly illegal, but admitted doing it several times over a couple of decades.
This person’s misdeeds were the subject of a police investigation and they found sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case; but decided prosecution wouldn’t be in the public interest.
Who was it? Helen Clark who was Minister of Arts when the discovery that she had commissioned a painting and signed it for a charity auction was made.
The ensuing publicity uncovered several more and she eventually admitted to signing about half a dozen works of art over 20 years although she hadn’t produced them.
I think the police were correct not to prosecute and I don’t think she should have stood down as Prime Minister, but I do think she should have relinquished the Arts portfolio.
If someone signs a bottle of wine or an article of clothing no one is going to think he or she produced it because the labels will clearly show who did. But the signature on a work of art is the label, it’s part of its provenance and says to the world it’s the work of the signatory. A Minister of Arts ought to understand that.
I wrote about that here and am not going to repeat that post now. But I think that episode is relevant to recent events because it showed she expects a higher standard of behaviour of her ministers – including Winston Peters – than of herself; and because she didn’t appear to accept it was wrong because she never actually said she was sorry.
She didn’t say sorry yesterday either after her grudging admission she had no option but to accept the SFO’s word that no-one leaked information to John Key. But as Keeping Stock points out, she’s not good at saying sorry.