Money from NZ First Foundation used to fund MP's UK trip

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 29 Apr 2020, 8:02PM
Clayton Mitchell - an NZ First MP based in Tauranga and the man in charge of bringing in party donations - used money from the fund for flights to Europe. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Clayton Mitchell - an NZ First MP based in Tauranga and the man in charge of bringing in party donations - used money from the fund for flights to Europe. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Money from NZ First Foundation used to fund MP's UK trip

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 29 Apr 2020, 8:02PM

The New Zealand First MP at the centre of the scandal surrounding the New Zealand First Foundation at the end of last year used money from the mysterious fund to travel to the UK.

Clayton Mitchell – an NZ First MP based in Tauranga and the man in charge of bringing in party donations – used money from the fund for flights to Europe to "observe the EU elections" last year.

His accommodation, while he was in the UK, was paid for by the right-wing Brexit Party, it has been revealed.

The information comes from the annual Register of Pecuniary Interests – a list of all MPs' assets and debts, as well as all the gifts they have received and their overseas travel.

The list does not say how much money the items, assets or travel cost, but it does not appear on the list unless its market value is deemed to likely be above $500.

Late last year, the NZ First Foundation was the subject of a raft of criticisms.

It was revealed that more $500,000 worth of political donations to NZ First had been put into the fund, and much of it was not declared to the Electoral Commission.

This meant it was unclear what the money – given to the party for political donations – had been spent on.

The Serious Fraud Office is investigating the fund.

NZ First Leader Winston Peters has always maintained that the fund was not doing anything illegal.

But Stuff – which was leaked some of the foundation's expenses – revealed the money was being spent on furnishing the party's campaign office, its internet bills, legal advice and on some consultancy work.

Another $10,000 was spent on staff overtime and $920 on a picture of lost sheep, Stuff reported.

The leak also revealed the money was spent on travel, although at the time it was unclear where to.

But the pecuniary interests list, released this afternoon, reveals money from the fund was spent on the UK trip for Mitchell – likely at a cost of thousands of dollars.

Reporting of the NZ First Foundation at the time revealed donors to the fund were in the dark over what the money was being spent on.

Van Den Brink Group chief operating officer Michael Sheridan, for example, said the company had understood it was donating to the New Zealand First Party.

ACT Leader David Seymour told the Herald today that people, who had thought they were donating to the NZ First Party, deserve an explanation.

He said the UK travel junket raises further questions about the foundation which need to be answered by the party.