Opinion: Andrew Little must apologise to John Shewan

Opinion: Andrew Little must apologise to John Shewan

Andrew Little should apologise to tax expert John Shewan for treating him with utter contempt and total disrespect.

Mr Little has been caught out big time -- and it serves him right.

Mr Little got things wrong about Mr Shewan and has to put them right.

So Mr Little issued a retraction -- at 5:17pm on Saturday, June 18 -- two hours and 18 minutes before kick-off of the Wellington Test.

This is so cynical it is sad. Everybody knows that is the absolutely dead time in a media cycle when it would get the least attention. It is cunning and awful and rude and Mr Little's actions show why people distrust politicians.

Now things have bounced back on Mr Little and his own credibility is being called into question -- and it serves him right.

A lot of this is arcane and complex but it is important because Mr Little is auditioning to be Prime Minister. His actions and his words are important.

Mr Little yesterday repeatedly said that Mr Shewan did not ask him for an apology about incorrect statements made about him.

So then Mr Shewan pulled out a letter to Mr Little that said: "I now request the statement I sent to you yesterday be issued with the following additions: 'I apologise to Mr Shewan for any embarrassment I have caused him through my statements'."

Sadly for Mr Little, it doesn't get much clearer than that. Contrary to his public claims, Mr Shewan asked for an apology.

(Mr Little’s office is saying that he was confused, and that he was referring to meetings with Mr Shewan where he didn't ask for an apology, not to the correspondence where he did.)

This is all to do with Panama Papers in April, when Mr Little questioned the choice of Mr Shewan to lead an inquiry into foreign trusts.

He claimed that Mr Shewan had once helped advise the Bahamas government on how to preserve its tax haven status.

Mr Shewan said that was wrong and asked the Labour leader to retract his "defamatory" comments.

There were lots of behind-the-scenes negotiations and Mr Little did retract (but not apologise) with that shameful Saturday night press release.

Andrew Little clearly didn't want a defamation case from John Shewan. But he didn't want to apologise either. So he issued a retraction and tried to bury it. He's tried to cover it up with words and it looks like he hasn't told the truth to the media.

Now it has all come back worse than ever.

Mr Little must apologise. He was wrong and Mr Shewan asked the Labour leader to retract his "defamatory" comments.

Mr Little must apologise.