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Labour running a smear campaign, Key says

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

Wellington, May 28 NZPA - Prime Minister John Key has accused the Labour Party of running a smear campaign against him and says he has legal advice which "utterly refutes" its allegation that he misled Parliament over the blind trust holding his assets.

Labour MP Pete Hodgson has laid a complaint with Speaker Lockwood Smith alleging Mr Key misled Parliament when he said he had no access to the blind trust, Aldgate, which holds his assets.

Mr Hodgson says the assets are in a parallel company, Whitechapel, which Mr Key has access to.

"The legal advice shows my blind trust is indeed that -- it is totally and utterly blind and out of my control and sight -- and also shows the allegations around the trustee company Whitechapel are incorrect," Mr Key told reporters today.

"I have no involvement and no interest in Whitechapel. It is a trustee company, it may be used for lots of trusts."

Mr Key said he didn't know what assets he held.

"I don't have a clue...they are outside my control, I have no knowledge of them."

Mr Key released the legal advice, a letter from Pravir Tesiram of Taylor Grant Tesiram, and said he was giving it to Dr Smith.

"I just think this is all part of a Labour Party smear campaign," he said.

"They're trying to throw dirt in the hope that some of it will stick."

Mr Hodgson said Mr Key was giving answers to the wrong questions.

"The central question remains -- how can John Key prove that he could not see into his own blind trust through viewing Whitechapel," Mr Hodgson said.

"Mr Key's lawyers have not addressed that question."

Mr Tesiram's letter said Whitechapel was the trustee company of the Aldgate blind trust.

"You are not a trustee of the Aldgate Trust, nor are you a director or shareholder of the trustee," Mr Tesiram advised Mr Key.

"You are not a named beneficiary and you have no role or position in or with respect to the trust that gives you any influence or control over the decisions of the trustee."

Whitechapel is owned by Taylor Grant Tesiram, and Mr Tesiram said in his letter Mr Hodgson was concluding, in his complaint to Dr Smith, that Mr Key still had an interest in shares held by Whitechapel.

"The fact that a Companies Office search shows that Whitechapel is registered as the owner of shares in other companies cannot of itself establish that they are shares in which you have an interest," Mr Tesiram said.

"You have no interest and have no influence or control over the shares."

Mr Hodgson laid his complaint after a conflict of interest issue arose following reports that Mr Key held shares in a vineyard.

The Government is working on liquor law reform, and some of the other shareholders in Highwater Vineyard are supermarket owners who would have an interest in those reforms.

Mr Key has said he doesn't have a conflict of interest because he doesn't know what shares he holds and doesn't know the other vineyard shareholders.

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