Since the evidence of his dodgy donations started emerging, John Banks' strategy has been to try and lie his way out of trouble. He lied that he was not aware of the donation. He lied that he hadn't called Dotcom to thank him for the money. He lied that he "hardly knew" the man. And now, it appears that he lied in his crucial statement to police that he had not read his election donation return before signing it:
Mr Banks is likely to face further questions after his press secretary removed his line of defence against the accusations....which is enough to cast significant doubt on Banks' "I knew nothing!" defence, and invites the case to be re-opened.
Police said they could not prove that he knew the content of the form was false because it was filled out by the campaign treasurer, who assured Mr Banks it was "true and correct". Mr Banks then signed it.
[Press secretary Shelley] Mackey yesterday challenged descriptions of this as saying Mr Banks signed the form without reading it. In an email, she said: "But John Banks did read the document."
Police had already established Mr Banks knew who some anonymous donors were. Ms Mackey's statement meant he would have known the donation form did not include donors of whom he was personally aware.
She then back-pedalled, saying the treasurer had "gone over" the form with Mr Banks.
Meanwhile, Banks also seems to be lying about whether he gave the police permission to release his statement. Though now that he's said publicly that he gave permission, hopefully they'll be good enough to take him at his word and release it.
And regardless: a man who solicits donations with an explicit offer of influence, then systematically lies in an effort to cover it up, is unfit to be a Minister. As the Cabinet Manual points out, Ministers are required at all times to "act lawfully and to behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards". Banks hasn't. He violated electoral law and got away with it due to time limits. He lied systemically to cover it up. he has, at all times, behaved as a deeply unethical person. And a decent Prime Minister would sack him for it.