Government still covering up real reason for $4m Saudi payment

The Government has now spent more than a year resisting disclosure of official information regarding whether there was legal advice supporting Murray McCully’s statement that the $4 million cash pay-out to a Saudi businessman was to settle “a legal claim”, Labour MP David Parker says.

“The media and the Labour Party have been seeking clarification through the Ombudsman under the Official Information Act of the existence, or otherwise, of documents to show whether this was true or just an excuse.

"The Minister has been supressing the documents.

“Murray McCully and the Prime Minister have repeatedly claimed the payment – made without Cabinet approval – was to avoid legal claims following New Zealand’s live sheep export ban. We still haven’t seen any evidence it was.

“Treasury couldn’t find any reference to legal proceedings in their advice.

“I suspect these long delays are to avoid admitting the ‘legal claim’ did not exist, and has been an excuse to justify a shabby, unprincipled deal.

“I do not believe there was any claim or any right of action. If there was, the official papers would show it.

“It’s time John Key and Murray McCully disclosed the documents, to show whether the ‘legal claim’ was real or made up,” David Parker says.