Brendan Horan says he is determined to be the best independent MP New Zealand has ever had.
The MP was back in Parliament the day after he was kicked out of
his party, New Zealand First, following allegations, which he
denies, that he stole money from his late mother's bank
Horan did his best to dodge the cameras as he returned to Parliament today.
"I've got no comment to make. I've done nothing wrong and I'm here and that's it," he told ONE News.
Asked if he believes he has a mandate to be there, he said:
"I've got no comment on anything. It's with my lawyers, and so I
can't comment on it."
ONE News understands his New Zealand First office in Bowen House was being packed up as leader Winston Peters stood up in Parliament and announced Horan was being kicked out of the caucus as a result of the allegations he stole money from his late mother.
"Well he's got no mandate for that, as everybody knows, and the proper thing to do is to stand down," Peters said today.
Horan's first stop this morning was to the Clerk of the House to sort out a new workplace and seat in the debating chamber.
"Brendan Horan is from 4 December 2012 regarded an independent member for parliamentary purposes," Speaker Lockwood Smith told the House today.
Asked why he has come back, Horan said: "I've come back to work."
Peters says he is outraged Horan will not resign as an MP.
Asked why it was important for the party to cut Horan lose, Peters said: "Well, we're not going to have lame ducks on board when we've worked so hard over the years to build this party up."
But some of his former colleagues, despite unanimously voting for his expulsion from the caucus last night, are not towing the line publicly.
"Look, if he's claiming he's innocent then he's doing what I would do if I thought I was innocent. But if I knew I was in the wrong I'd be resigning," said Richard Prosser, a New Zealand First list MP.
Muddying the waters further are reports today that Horan was regularly using his Parliamentary cellphone to call the TAB.
Asked if there is any truth in this, Horan said: "As I've said, I can't make any comment. It's with the lawyers."
'A bad look'
ONE News' Deputy Political Editor Jessica Mutch says it is unlikely the controversy surrounding Horan will badly damage New Zealand First.
She told TV ONE's Breakfast: "It's just such a bad look to have one of your MPs even associated with a story like that even though Brendan Horan says it's untrue.
"But I think what everyone realises is that Winston Peters is the brand and name of New Zealand First. Brendan Horan got dragged into Parliament basically on the coat-tails of Winston Peters so as long as his reputation is still intact that will be OK for New Zealand First."
However, she says there will be a problem if Horan does decide to remain in Parliament.
"If Brendan Horan comes in, sits in the back, the very, very back, even further back than he is now in Parliament, he's going to be this constant little nagging reminder for the public and for Winston Peters that, 'I'm still here, I'm an independent MP'."
No complaint has been laid with police against Horan, who has been a New Zealand First MP for just 12 months.
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