10 transgressions of New Zealand politicians

Recent weeks have been dominated by news stories about MPs whose conduct has been questioned - Metiria Turei, who fell on her sword after revealing she had not disclosed flatmates to Work and Income in order to collect an additional accommodation supplement, and Todd Barclay, who is being investigated by police for allegedly secretly recording a staff member in his Clutha-Southland electorate.

But they are far from the only politicians to have transgressed. Here are 10 others whose actions have been called into question.

1. Former ACT MP David Garrett stole a dead baby's identity

Garrett resigned from Parliament in 2010 after it was revealed he used a dead baby's identity to obtain a false passport in 1984.

He was discharged without conviction for the passport fraud in 2005, but stood for ACT and entered Parliament as the party's law and order spokesman in 2008.

10 transgressions of New Zealand politicians
Photo credit: Newshub.

It later emerged he had lied on an affidavit during the passport fraud case, failing to mention he had a conviction for assault in Tonga in 2002.

Garrett wasn't just spokesperson for law and order - he wrote one of the ACT Party's flagship policies, the 'three strikes' legislation.

2. Bill English received accommodation allowance while living at family home

In 2009 the Auditor-General found the then-Deputy Prime Minister claimed a $900/week accommodation allowance he was not entitled to, racking up $24,000 from Ministerial Services in the first six months of the year.

He received the taxpayer-funded accommodation allowance for ministers living out of town, while living in his $1.2 million family home in Wellington.

At the time, the amount was nearly twice as much as other MPs and ministers who lived in their own homes in the capital – made possible as Mr English's house was owned by a family trust.

English paid back $32,000 and vowed to stop claiming a housing allowance, but maintained that paying back the money was not an admission of guilt.

The Auditor-General's report found there were no grounds for an inquiry into Mr English's living arrangements but suggested the rules surrounding MP accommodation be reviewed. They were subsequently changed.

3. Drink driving convictions

Labour's Ruth Dyson was convicted of drink driving in 2000 after being caught with a breath alcohol reading almost twice the legal limit.

She resigned from her ministerial portfolios after being charged, but regained them after her six-month driving disqualification ended.

Former Police Minister Michael Woodhouse was also convicted of drink driving when he was 21 – years before becoming a National Party MP.

Michael Woodhouse was convicted of drink driving, years before becoming an MP.
Michael Woodhouse was convicted of drink driving, years before becoming an MP. Photo credit: Newshub.

When the conviction was revealed in 2014, then-Prime Minister John Key said he wasn't concerned, saying it had been disclosed to National before Woodhouse became an MP.

4. Christian Heritage Party politician Graham Capill jailed for child sex offences

The former leader of the Christian Heritage Party was sentenced to nine years prison for multiple sex crimes - including rape and indecent assault - against children aged between five and 11, over a period of 12 years.

Caphill, a former pastor, led the Christian Heritage Party through five elections but they failed to win any seats. He stood down in 2002 and became a police prosecutor, but left that job when charges were brought against him.

5. Labour's Darren Hughes was investigated by police

Mr Hughes resigned as a Labour MP in March 2011 after a young man laid a police complaint against him. The complaint was of a sexual nature and followed an alleged late night incident.

Shortly after the complaint became public, and while the police were still investigating, Mr Hughes resigned from Parliament.

10 transgressions of New Zealand politicians
Photo credit: File

Police later confirmed they would not lay any charges against him, saying they did not have enough evidence.

6. Labour MP Taito Phillip Field was found guilty of bribery and corruption

Field was convicted on 11 charges of bribery and corruption in 2009 after having Thai nationals work on his properties in Samoa and New Zealand in exchange for immigration assistance.

He was also found guilty of 15 charges of wilfully perverting the course of justice for attempting to obstruct investigations into the corruption charges.

Taito Phillip Field was expelled from the Labour Party after suggesting he might run against them.
Taito Phillip Field was expelled from the Labour Party after suggesting he might run against them. Photo credit: File

Field spent 12 years as an MP, mostly for the Labour Party. He lost his ministerial posts after the corruption allegations arose in 2005 and was formally expelled from the party in 2007 after saying he might run against Labour.

7. Sir John Key enrolled to vote in an electorate he did not live in

In 2002 Sir John, then a new candidate for the National Party, enrolled to vote in the Helensville electorate he was standing in.

He owned a house there and said he had intended for it to be a weekend home, but never ended up using it as such due to family and work demands.

Many have argued that this was a breach of the Electoral Act, however Sir John never faced legal consequences.

8. Former Prime Minister Peter Fraser spent a year in prison

When conscription for World War I was introduced in 1916, a number of Labour Party leaders protested the law.

Party co-founder Peter Fraser was one of them - he was arrested, charged with sedition and sentenced to 12 months prison.

He disagreed with the law because he thought conscription of men should be accompanied by conscription of wealth.

Peter Fraser spent 12 months in prison.
Peter Fraser spent 12 months in prison. Photo credit: NZ History

Mr Fraser went on to serve as Prime Minister from 1940 until 1949.

9. Former ACT MP Donna Awatere Huata took $80,000 from charity

Awatere Huata was convicted of fraud after taking $80,000 from the Pipi Foundation, a government-funded trust she set up for underprivileged children.

Media at the time reported she spent the money on her stomach stapling surgery.

She was expelled from ACT after the allegations arose, and was sentenced to two years and 9 months in jail, alongside her husband.

10. Former National minister Roger McClay defrauded charities

In 2010 McClay admitted defrauding World Vision, Keep New Zealand Beautiful and the Parliamentary Service of $25,000.

McClay, who was an MP from 1981 until 1996, had claimed a 90 percent air travel subsidy as a former MP while also claiming the expenses from the charities.

10 transgressions of New Zealand politicians
Photo credit: File

He was sentenced to 300 hours' community service, repaid the two charities, and was stripped of his travel perks.