30 Sep 2020

RNZ, Stuff to challenge NZ First Foundation-linked name suppressions

2:12 pm on 30 September 2020

RNZ and Stuff are going to court to try reveal the identities of the two people charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

A microphone with the RNZ logo on it.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The SFO yesterday announced it had laid charges of obtaining-by-deception against the pair after its investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation and its handling of donations.

The defendants cannot be named due to an interim name suppression order, but the SFO has confirmed they are not sitting MPs, candidates or party members.

RNZ and Stuff intend to challenge the suppression.

"RNZ believes voters should have as much information as possible heading into the election," RNZ head of news Richard Sutherland said.

New Zealand First took the SFO to the High Court last week seeking to suppress the names of the two people charged, but the court ruled against the party.

It said there was "a significant public interest in the New Zealand voting public being informed during an election campaign about criminal charges of serious fraud against people or organisations related to political parties".

However, the judge granted the party leave to appeal the decision, which gives the defendants continued interim name suppression.

Since all this was made public, New Zealand First's leader Winston Peters has claimed the SFO is biased against his party, which he says is "totally separate" from the foundation.

However, the first court judgment noted the SFO had categorically denied its treatment of the foundation had been any different to its investigation into the Labour Party, and that the foundation "is a trust with associations with NZ First, according to NZ First's counsel".

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