Hide withdraws support for former ACT MP
Act party leader Rodney Hide withdrew his support for disgraced MP David Garrett over an affidavit sworn by the former Act law and order spokesman in 2005.
In 2005, Mr Garrett was discharged without conviction after he admitted to stealing a dead baby’s identity to apply for a fake passport in 1984.
It was reported last night that Mr Garrett may have misled the court in the 2005 case by claiming that he had no criminal record – when in fact, as he admitted this week, he was charged with assault in Tonga in 2002 and fined $10.
The judge in charge of the 2005 case made reference in court documents to Mr Garrett’s “otherwise blameless life”.
Mr Hide said that the possible issue with Mr Garrett’s affidavit was raised with him yesterday.
He then phoned Mr Garrett from the airport in Hong Kong to let him know that he could not, as leader, defend him on the issue.
“It was a tough call to make,” Mr Hide said at a press conference called in his office this afternoon.
Mr Garrett announced his resignation from the Act party this morning.
Mr Hide, who flew back early today from Hong Kong, confirmed that Mr Garrett told him about the passport fraud when he applied to be a party member.
He was not told that the case involved the identity of a dead baby.
Mr Hide could not recall the specific details of his discussion with Mr Garrett - but said he had decided at the time that the incident was historic and Mr Garrett deserved a chance.
Mr Hide said today that he regretted his decision - to the extent that it had caused additional distress to the dead child's family.
He stood by Mr Garrett’s achievements as Act law and order spokesman, particularly the drafting and passage of the ‘three strikes’ policy into law.
“He achieved more in Parliament than most MPs,” Mr Hide said.
He told media that the Act party had “always had a tough time” and that the party – and himself as leader - would just have to work harder to offset damage caused by recent events.
Mr Garrett had resigned with the best interests of the party and John Key-led government in mind, he said.
Mr Garrett's future as an MP remains uncertain. He has resigned from the Act party but has the option of staying on as an independent MP.
Mr Hide said that he would discuss Mr Garrett's options with him.
The Prime Minister is expected to make a statement on the incident this afternoon.