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Field will fight any charges

Published: 9:00PM Wednesday May 23, 2007 Source: One News/Newstalk ZB

Taito Phillip Field survived an independent inquiry into allegations he promised political favours in return for personal ones. But the police have taken a different view and will ask a High Court judge leave to charge the MP.

Field says he will fight any charges laid against him tooth and nail.

Police have confirmed they are seeking leave to charge him with 14 counts of bribery.

The independent Mangere MP has been the focus of an eight-month investigation into allegations that he personally gained from providing immigration assistance to overstayers in return for cheap labour.

Field has denied any wrongdoing and is vowing to fight the charges.

"I just want to make clear it clear to the New Zealand public that in my 14 years as a member of parliament I have never taken a bribe, I have never taken any money, I have never...suggested to anybody in anyway that they do anything for me in return for my help, any help, or work as a member of parliament," Field said in a press conference on Thursday.

He says that simple truth and fact gives him confidence he will be able to successfully defend any charges.

Field says he wants his side of the story to be heard for a change.

The charges are being laid under Section 103 of the Crimes Act which relate to corruption and bribery by members of parliament. As this is rarely used, police must get permission from a High Court judge to charge Field - and police say it will take several weeks for the relevant material to be assembled in support of their application.

The charges carry a maximum of seven years in jail. Anyone convicted of a crime carrying more than two years jail is not able to stand for parliament.

But political allies like the Destiny Church say they will continue to back him and he's innocent until proven guilty.

"One of the interesting things, there are many Labour MPs which have had a prima facie case raised against them and have never been taken to court but Taito has," says Destiny Church spokesman Richard Lewis.

Someone who thinks field's political career is over is parkinsons sufferer Patrick Cole.
He sought help from the Mangere MP after getting too sick to meet his mortgage payments, Field bought Cole's house to help avoid a mortgagee sale, but later sold it for a profit.

"He would be out of his mind if he carried on like this I believe this is the time for his wife to encourage him to step down," says Cole

But Field has no intention of stepping down.

The charges carry a maximum of seven years in jail. Anyone convicted of a crime carrying more than two years jail is not able to stand for parliament.

For the meantime Field remains a fully functioning member of parliament.

Field is the first New Zealand MP to be charged with bribery. The charges he faces are serious enough if found guilty he will automatically be expelled from parliament.


The case of Thai tiler Sunan Siriwan sparked firstly a ministerial inquiry and then a police investigation. Siriwan alleged that he was promised a New Zealand visa in return for tiling Field's home in Samoa.

He is now back in his homeland but preparing to give evidence in court.

His lawyer Olinda Woodroffe says while she is duty bound to represent her Thai client, as a Samoan she finds it difficult.

"Phillip Field has held himself as a leader of the country and everybody looked up to him, his demotion in the eyes of the world is bad for Samoa," she says.

Field was initially stood down as a minister in 2005 pending the outcome of an inquiry by Noel Ingram QC, before being stripped of his portfolios in a post-election re-shuffle.

In July last year the Ingram report cleared Field of allegations of conflict of interest relating to his employment of Thai workers on the property in Samoa. He was also cleared of taking advantage of an indebted family whose house he bought, before selling it later for a large profit.

The report did however raise questions about Field's judgement.

Then in August last year an official inquiry by the Labour Department also cleared Field of any wrongdoing following the allegations around the Thai immigrants.

But just weeks later further allegations were levelled at Field. His former electoral secretary, known as Siniva, spoke exclusively to TVNZ's Sunday programme saying she saw Field taking "donations" in his office.

In an historic move last October Speaker Margaret Wilson gave police special permission to search and seal Field's parliamentary office. His home and electorate offices were also searched. It has taken months to decide if they have enough evidence to charge him.

Despite all reports so far clearing Field his relationship with the Labour Party came to an end early in 2007.

In February he resigned from the party as the Caucus was moving to expel the MP after he hinted he might stand as an independent at the next election in an interview with ONE News. The comments breached party rules.

In the interview Field accused politicians and the media of orchestrating a campaign against him.