John Key’s lawyer goes under the bus

It appears the John Key’s lawyer has been told he needs to take one for the team.

Lawyer didn't speak for me

Lawyer Ken Whitney “misrepresented” John Key

Prime Minister John Key says his lawyer misrepresented him while lobbying another minister about a potential crackdown on the foreign trusts industry.

It emerged last week that Mr Key’s personal lawyer, Ken Whitney, had lobbied the Government in 2014 because of concerns that the foreign trusts regime was about to change.

In a letter to then-Revenue Minister Todd McClay in December 2014, Mr Whitney said the Prime Minister had told him the Government had no plans to tighten the rules for the industry.

John Key’s Lawyer “misrepresented” him

Speaking to Radio New Zealand this morning, Mr Key said this was a misrepresentation of what he had said.

Mr Key said that he had told his lawyer that he was not aware of any changes being planned by the Inland Revenue Department, and referred him to the minister for further discussion.

Mr Whitney and seven other members of the foreign trusts industry later met with Mr McClay.

Mr Key said he had nothing to do with the Government’s decision not to review the way foreign trusts operated. But he understood that it was unrelated to the lobbying by his lawyer and his associates.

The Government opted not to change the rules for foreign trusts because there would be no benefit to New Zealand, he said.

“It was nothing to do with whether they were highly effective in lobbying them, it was what was the higher priority for the tax department,” he told Radio New Zealand.

Not sure this will make much difference to the criticism coming Key’s way from the opposition and the Media Party over the Panama Paper smear campaign.  The link was already tenuous, and distancing himself from his foreign trust lawyer won’t make any difference.

Question Time tomorrow will still be wall-to-wall Panama attacks, and saying “whatever Ken Whitney said wasn’t representative” won’t make a bit of difference.


– Isaac Davison, NZ Herald


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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