Was Winston’s accuser an inside job?
Winston Peters might not need to look very far for the whistle-blower who caused him so much strife.
He has thrashed about whipping up emotional storms over what he describes as intrigues to destroy him and his party.
But evidence suggests an inside job from his own New Zealand First by someone who drew from secret party files.
That seems a logical source of a series of highly significant letters sent to media investigators over several months. Some letters were long and verbose but they were also full of specific, damaging detail and precise figures.
One of the most important was backed by a copy of a Vela Brothers’ donation cheque. Specially written for $9995, it could and did slip past the legal obligation to declare donations of $10,000 or more. As did others from the same source.
That evidence of a specially crafted and secret donation process looked out at Winston Peters, his critics and supporters, from the front page of Wellington’s Dominion Post as long ago as July 22.
That cheque rebutted Winston Peters’ denials that Vela corporate money had changed hands – and in this sleight-of-hand, drip-feed fashion.
The cheque and other details in those anonymous letters were part of a two-year investigation by the paper’s Phil Kitchen, New Zealand’s most determined and skilled investigator of his generation. Ask Louise Nicholas and various former policemen about him if you have any doubts.
The parliamentary privileges committee hearing and current investigations by both the Serious Fraud Office and police – plus widespread and probing cover by other media – have followed.
It’s been the sort of detailed, complex and longrunning inquiry that Phil Kitchen thrives on. And he still hasn’t revealed all that he knows. Not by a long way.
The Vela cheque copy arrived for him in the mail and out of the blue around the same time that details of Sir Robert Jones’ $25,000 donation to New Zealand First made headlines.
Sir Robert was clearly very angry and curious that the cheque, intended for the party, went instead to the previously unknown and now infamous Spencer Trust.
He wanted to know why a straight-forward donation was sidetracked into a top-secret drawer of the party’s accounting system that he was unaware of. As, it seemed, were senior members of New Zealand First as well.
And that was before the Glenn real life exchanges – the “You did” “I didn’t” “Henry did” – serial got under way.
So first clue: If you seek that anonymous letter writer – as no doubt Winston Peters does – look for an insider from a very small and select group with access and insights into records of New Zealand First’s mysterious cash and accounting system.
And one who knows the names of its wealthy backers who’d much prefer their political handouts were hidden.
That process was so secretive that Mr Peters seemed at times to deny knowledge of it. Various treasurers weren’t in the loop either. Even the then president Dail Jones seemed clearly unsure about the trust, various gifts, where the money came from and why.
Second clue: The anonymous writer has more than average knowledge of classic Greek literature. The alias on the letters was “Eumenides”, a goddess of ancient mythology.
Third clue: That choice of pen name seems an aimed shot too. Eumenides is also linked, perhaps significantly, with The Furies who, Encyclopaedia Britannica tells me, were “vengeful deities” who were pretty tough, singlebut apparently operated in what they saw as the ultimate public good.
All these details – which I know read at times like the plot of a not-so-brilliant pulp thriller – don’t bear out the repetitive Peters’ theory that he’s a victim of long-running dirty dealings by corporates seeking revenge for his role in the Winebox revelations of strange behaviour in high places and the Cook Islands.
Nor does it support a theory that some Serious Fraud Office hatchet man – who also bizarrely apparently has amateur interests in Greek mythology – is paying Peters back for past bitter criticism of the SFO.
Fourth clue: If my insider theory is correct, the real name of Eumenides – the informer/traitor/public benefactor depending on your viewpoint – is almost certainly on current or past New Zealand First membership lists, in particular its most trusted office bearers and select high-level decisions-
Fifth clue: The letter writer doesn’t see themselves as driven by a grudge or postWinebox trauma, but, like the ancient Furies, by issues of the public good.
PS: When Encyclopaedia Britannica took up my queries about Eumenides, it also warmed to the chase. It pointed to Aeschylus, a playwright in his prime around 458BC when he used the Furies theme in an adults-only script involving blood curses and pursuits of revenge.
Apparently, legend has it that one of his productions was rather worryingly interrupted by seats in the gallery collapsing.
Blood curses and pursuits of revenge! And collapsing seats! That all sounds frighteningly familiar.
To contact Pat Booth email: firstname.lastname@example.org. All replies are open for publication unless marked Not For Publication.
The evidence: The Eumenides cheque in the mail.