Labour's Willie Jackson says photographing journalists 'unusual' after Winston Peters' admission, denial

Labour's Willie Jackson says photographing journalists is a "bit unusual" after Winston Peters admitted - then denied - being involved in capturing photographs of two reporters investigating the New Zealand First Foundation.

In an interview with Magic Talk's Peter Williams, Peters - the New Zealand First leader and Deputy Prime Minister - said "we took the photograph" after being questioned about surveillance-type images posted online of RNZ's Guyon Espiner and Stuff's Matt Shand.

The images - as well as a short video - were uploaded to The BFD, a successor to the Whale Oil website. They show Espiner and Shand, who have been investigating donations to the New Zealand First Foundation, meeting with former New Zealand First President Lester Gray.

On Thursday, Peters seemed to backtrack, however. He tweeted: "[NZ First] has no interest in following Mr Espiner or any other journalists."

"The very reverse applies. No private investigators have been engaged to follow Mr Espiner or anyone else. A supporter thought it odd seeing ex-president Lester Grey with Mr Espiner so took a photo. Simple."

On The AM Show on Friday, Jackson, a minister in the Labour-NZ First Government, jumped around questions about the photographs, initially asking: "What? Is that illegal?".

But he did eventually say while journalists "are not sacrosanct", the practice of photographing them was "a bit unusual".

"I'm not defending it. It's a bit different."

Jackson said Peters was "on fire" and a "terrific" Deputy Prime Minister.

"Stop picking on Winston."

National MP Judith Collins, who appeared on The AM Show alongside Jackson, accused the Labour MP of trying to avoid questions. She agreed taking photos of reporters was "certainly unusual behaviour".

"I am just interested in Willie's reaction here and I thought I would just let him keep digging and sometimes it is best not to say that much."

Peters has been embroiled in scandal this week as information about the New Zealand First Foundation appeared in the media. The foundation has been accused of being a slush fund for the New Zealand First Party and as a means to hide donations to party. Peters, however, claims the party and foundation are separate entities and any loans to the party from the foundation had been paid back.

But on Monday, the Electoral Commission referred an investigation into the foundation to the police, which then referred it to the Serious Fraud Office.

"Based on the information available, we have formed the view that the New Zealand First Foundation has received donations which should have been treated as party donations for the New Zealand First Party," the commission said.

"In the commission's view, the donations were not properly transmitted to the party and not disclosed as required by the Electoral Act 1993."

Peters welcomed the Electoral Commission's referral and confirmed a review into its party donation arrangements would happen.

"I am advised that in all its dealings the Foundation sought outside legal advice and does not believe it has breached the Electoral Act.

"At this stage, the SFO will consider if an offence has been committed, or otherwise, and it is not appropriate to make any comment on specific detail that prejudges their investigation."

Peters announced on Sunday he had asked his party president to prepare a police complaint over the "massive breach" of the party's information.

"This morning I have recommended to the New Zealand First party president that she begin preparing a complaint to the police over the massive breach of New Zealand First's party information," he said.

"New Zealand First has so far been sensitive to the circumstances surrounding the theft of party information but can no longer tolerate the mendacious attacks against the party and its supporters."

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