Kathryn Ryan interviewed former NZ First staffer Rex Widerstrom, Sir Bob Jones and Wayne Peters over allegations about donations to NZ First on Nine to Noon this morning.
Widerstrom said he remembers at least one conversation in which Winston Peters discussed money going in to the Spencer Trust. Sir Bob was quite clear that he was giving money to NZ First and said a journalist told him that party insiders said money given to the party had not got to it.
Wayne Peters had the same difficulty giving straight answers as his brother. Perhaps
Ryan then discussed the issues with Matthew Hooton and Laila Harre.
Harre summed it up: “The more opportunites Winston Peters has to respond to the issues and allegations the more questions that arise.”
And the more questions arise the muddier the answers become.
If Winston Peters has any personal insight he’ll already be regretting picking a fight with Sir Bob Jones who has said he will write to Wayne Peters asking what happened to the $25,000 he wrote for the Spencer Trust in 2005.
Peters has said he has “no involvement with that trust” administered by his brother, but former NZ First staff member Rex Widerstrom told the Herald on Sunday he was prepared to swear an affidavit stating the trust was set up around the time of the Winebox Inquiry to funnel anonymous donations from people who wanted to support Peters’ various legal battles.
Peters might also ask himself why he questioned Sir Bob’s memory:
Despite Peters’ claims of a failing memory, Sir Robert said that he recalled the background to the donation very clearly.
“There was a lot of drinking and when we got round to the subject [of the donation] there was a tremendous argument and I said ‘Winston, I’m not giving you anything’. Finally to get him off my back I said ‘you can have $25,000 on the basis of friendship’,” Sir Robert said.
Asked if he believed it was plausible Peters knew nothing of the Spencer Trust, he added: “Of course he [Peters] did… [But] there was no bloody mention of the Spencer Trust. The money was to go to his party.
“I don’t tell bloody lies. Why am I in the firing line for an act of benevolence? I won’t tolerate it.”
It would be difficult to find any reasons why Sir Bob and his staff would lie. There are plenty of reasons why Peters might – starting with a political career based in part on his attacks on big business involvement and anonymous donations to political parties.