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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Field's sentence shows no one is above law - Speaker (New Zealand)

Disgraced former MP Taito Phillip Field's jail sentence shows no one is above the law, Speaker Lockwood Smith says.
Field was today jailed for six years for bribery and corruption and perverting the course of justice.
Justice Rodney Hansen sentenced Field to four years in prison on the bribery and corruption charges and two years on the charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
In August, a jury found the former Mangere MP guilty of 26 of the 35 criminal charges he faced at the end of a 14-week trial.
Field was found guilty of 11 of 12 charges of bribery and corruption after getting Thai nationals to carry out work on his properties in Auckland and Samoa in return for immigration assistance between November 2002 and October 2005.
He was also found guilty of 15 of 23 charges of wilfully attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice relating to evidence he gave to a government-ordered inquiry by Noel Ingram QC into his conduct.
As an opposition MP Dr Smith pursued Field. He asked then immigration minister David Cunliffe more than 400 questions over the Field affair, drilling into contradictions and querying answers.
Dr Smith said he was saddened that a former MP and minister had been sentenced to a term of imprisonment.
"It demonstrates that all members of Parliament are accountable for their actions and that none of us are above the law," he said through a spokesman.
Justice Hansen said an aggravating factor of Field's offending was that he was prepared to exploit the Thai nationals that he had helped.
"You saw the results, you must have known that their willing assistance was saving you tens of thousands of dollars," Justice Hansen said.
"In my view you quite consciously used their adulations of you for your private gain."
Justice Hansen also said the jury must have found Field was trying to avoid justice when making and arranging for false information to be given to the Ingram Inquiry.
"It is an aggravating factor that you recruited your Thai friends and Mr Sulusulu (another witness) into your web."
The judge went on to say Field put his private interests ahead of his public ones: "It was a test of your character and it was a test that in my view you failed."

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