Hard News by Russell Brown


Show some decency

I'm glad your father isn't alive to see this, my mother often says. I know what she means.

Dad was, sometimes to a fault, concerned with security. I think my own ability to take risks is founded in the safety I felt in my childhood and I have always been grateful for that. He died in his fifties, believing that he had provided for my mother's life after he was gone. He was as careful as you would expect of a bank manager who sometimes provided pro bono budgeting advice to people who'd got themselves in a mess.

Almost all of the money is long-gone, lost in the rubble of multiple finance companies. Mum's retirement was taken from her. "Never ask your mother for money," Dad said to me before he died. I don't. I send her a little money every month.

Hanover wasn't the one that took the most of Mum's money -- the worst of it for her was in the actions of  the principals of Money Managers -- but it's the one that's most often in my face. It's there again, in the story broken in the Sunday Star Times by Matt Nippert.

Fran O'Sullivan summed it up in her Herald column today:

A cache of emails appears to reveal that three people - Carrick Graham, who was former Hanover Finance director Mark Hotchin's PR man, tax lawyer and blogger Cathy Odgers (aka Cactus Kate) and blogger Cameron (Whale Oil) Slater - were running campaigns apparently on behalf of Hotchin to try to discredit the SFO and the Financial Markets Authority as they investigated the failed finance company.

The emails appear to show that these campaigns involved the intimidation of a witness and the targeting of journalists and advocates who Graham, Odgers and Slater felt might embarrass Hotchin, their paying client. As The Ruminator notes, it may add up to perverting the course of justice.

These apparent actions bear directly on the integrity of New Zealand's markets and I am, frankly, sick to death of hearing from professed business types who refuse to see beyond their own political prejudice. To see how serious this is.

The Prime Minister finally managed in last night's Press debate to offer some modest condemndation of the actions of Slater and his friends. He deserves no credit for it. None at all, for so long as he he stands by the cynically narrow inquiry he has constructed to consider the actions of his former Justice minister, Judith Collins.

As Matt Nippert pointed out in last night's Media Take, the Serious Fraud Office is a law enforcement agency. We should care about an apparent campaign to undermine the rule of law. We should know how far this conduct extended. Labour's complaint to the police may help more than Key's faux inquiry, but it will inevitably be limited to this one case.

I know there are people within the National Party who care about this. One told me yesterday he believed that the "defamation for hire" business being conducted wiped tens of millions of dollars off the value of corporate brands. We need to know what was done and how far it extended, and I don't give a flying shit who is politically embarrassed in the course of finding out. That's not the point.

We need our political leaders, of whatever stripe, to show some decency and find out. And we need, everyone, to shun these people and what they represent.

PS: Please do watch the online-only Media Take extended interview with Matt Nippert and Raymond Miller, especially if you're a journalist. Matt is blunt and honest. Others could follow his example.

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