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John Banks' trial delayed by mud-slinging protester

Published: 6:43AM Monday May 19, 2014 Source: ONE News

A mud-slinging protester caused a delay at the start of the trial of Act MP John Banks this morning.
 
Banks is charged with filing a false electoral return after his failed Auckland mayoral bid in 2010, by allegedly declaring donations from Kim Dotcom and SkyCity as anonymous.
 
He might be used to it in Parliament, but the seasoned politician could never have expected mudslinging to erupt outside the High Court in Auckland.

"John! You bastard," yelled the protester, veteran anti-royalist Sam Bracanov, as he threw a bucket of foul-smelling mud at Banks.

The mud splattered across his suit and face but a stunned Banks ignored the verbal abuse. Bracanov was dragged away.

There was a delay for a change of clothes. "Re-suited", the embattled Epsom MP retraced his steps to court for the trial to finally get underway.

He is charged with knowingly filing a false electoral return after his failed 2010 Auckland mayoral bid. Essentially, the Crown alleges Banks knew he received $65,000 in donations from Kim Dotcom and SkyCity and legally should have declared them as donors. Instead he listed them as anonymous.
 
The Crown prosecutor, Paul Dacre QC, explained how Banks accepted the offer of a $50,000 donation from Kim Dotcom at the Dotcom mansion.

"Mr Dotcom says he told Mr Banks that he did not have a problem with it being known that he had made a donation to him, and says that Mr Banks responded that he wanted to help Mr Dotcom and he could help him more effectively if no one knew about the donation," he said.

Later, the Crown claims, the pair spoke on the phone.
 
"He asked Mr Banks whether or not he had received his donation. And Mr Banks acknowledged that he had and thanked Mr Dotcom," Mr Dacre said.

Banks denies this. He also has no recollection of a meeting at SkyCity where the Crown alleges he was handed a cheque for $15,000.

Banks' campaign treasurer, Lance Hutchison, told the court there were many anonymous donations, "and they're being made in such a way that the candidate doesn't know who made them".

Mr Hutchison says he filled out the electoral return on Banks' behalf.

"And I said, 'John you've got to sign here.' And he asked me 'is everything true and correct in there?' - words to that effect - and signed it." Mr Hutchison said.

Defence lawyer David Jones QC said: "Mr Banks considered that the return was true and correct, that he acted honestly and with integrity throughout."

Kim Dotcom is expected to give his evidence tomorrow.

Creative protests

The elderly man who threw mud at Banks, meanwhile, is known for his creative protests. But they're usually directed at royalty. 

Bracanov was arrested in Auckland in 2012 after plotting to throw horse manure at Prince Charles and wife Camilla.
 
In 1994, he was arrested for a sweeter-smelling crime - spraying air freshener at Prince Charles in Auckland.
 
The following year, he tried to repeat the stunt, this time targeting a car carrying the Queen, also in Auckland. 

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