John Banks’ lawyer David Jones QC has consistently argued that Banks could not have signed a false declaration of election donations because he did not read it before he signed it. He simply signed it relying on the assertion of his campaign manager that it was correct. Jones has dropped all other arguments and presumably this will be the main thrust of his submissions for judicial review in the High Court this coming week.
But Banks’ campaign manager’s evidence as reported by Judge Gittos in committing Banks for trial and here in the Herald was that Banks “glanced at it before signing it.” The Oxford dictionary defines “glance” as “take a quick or hurried look;” “read quickly or cursorily” as in “I glanced through your personnel file last night.”
So Banks did read the donations return. There are no prizes for guessing as to why that read might have been cursory. There is also an email from Banks’ own Press Secretary asking for a correction in the Herald to say that he did read the return, which may be further examined at a trial. It is referenced to Banks’ treasurer saying in his evidence to the police that they “spent more time” on the expenses section which implies that at least some time was spent on the donations section.
The other matter worth further examination is that of the donation of free radio time to the Banks campaign. $15,690 was recorded as an anonymous donation as well as an expense, and the donor stated in his evidence to police “how Banks solicited help from him so he donated $15,000 worth of advertising.” Even a cursory glance may have spotted that similarity, particularly as the same Treasurer was at pains to point out that Banks took a great deal of time and trouble over the expenses section of the return.
Graeme McCready would not have been able to bring any evidence on that issue, as the donor’s name had been redacted from the police report. Presumably it can now be further examined in court, particularly as it formed part of the original complaint from Trevor Mallard MP.
The law may yet surprise us, but it is hard to see how Banks can survive much longer. No wonder John Key’s keen to talk up his new suitors.