7 Oct 2009

Field sentence too harsh, says supporters

2:58 pm on 7 October 2009

Supporters of former Labour MP Taito Phillip Field say his sentence is too harsh.

Field was sentenced to prison in the High Court at Auckland on Tuesday for six years on 26 charges of bribery, corruption and obstructing the course of justice.

He was found guilty in August this year after a trial lasting 15 weeks.

A supporter and close friend, Salote Lilo, says the sentence did take into account the good work Field has done in the community.

Another supporter, Tafafunai Tase Lause, says it is sad to see someone of Field's stature going through six years of prison.

In sentencing, Justice Hansen said some of Field's actions threatened the foundations of democracy and he betrayed the trust of the people he represented.

Lawyer Paul Davison, QC, says no decision has been made on whether to appeal.

It is not yet known where Field will serve his sentence.

Unite union national secretary Matt McCarten worked with Field as a union organiser in the 1980s. He told Morning Report that Field had clear leadership qualities - but somehow he changed.

Media campaign blamed

A former lawyer for Field says he has been the victim of a deliberate campaign by the media and people trying to upset the balance of power.

Simativa Perese told Morning Report the media became involved in a kind of feeding frenzy over the accusations against him.

As Field was the 61st MP in Labour's coalition Government he said it was seen as sexy to have a go at him and see if there was a chance to upset the Government.

Mr Perese said Field maintains that he never intended to act corruptly, and that raises questions over the test for what's considered to be corruption and bribery in New Zealand.