Horan out of NZ First

MMP poster child: Brendan Horan has no electorate, and now no party either

NZ First's board says beleaguered MP Brendan Horan has relinquished his party membership by declaring himself an independent MP.

Leader Winston Peters issued a one-sentence press release at about 9pm.

That followed a two-and-a-quarter hour board meeting, NZ First board chairman Kevin Gardener, of Nelson, told NBR ONLINE.

"It wasn't all about Brendan. It was just a monthly Skype call and there's lots of other things to talk about."

Earlier today, Mr Horan told Parliament's speaker he should be regarded as an independent MP.

Mr Gardener says under section 10 of NZ First's constitution Mr Horan had effectively terminated his membership.

"That doesn't need to be confirmed, really. He just did it – that's it."

The constitution says membership may be terminated by voluntary resignation.

Mr Horan wasn't invited to speak to the board but, according to news reports, expected to be kicked out.

Mr Peters sacked Mr Horan from the party's caucus last week, over family allegations relating to money apparently missing from his dying mother's bank account.

It has since emerged Mr Horan used his parliamentary-funded mobile phone to call betting agency TAB.

Mr Gardener says the party will carry on with one MP short and there's no need for Helen Mulford, number nine on NZ First's party list, to step in because Mr Horan is still in Parliament.

Does Mr Gardener see Mr Horan's loss as a blow?

"No, absolutely not. It's decisive by the leader and the board stands by his judgement."

Mr Gardener says Mr Peters "intimated" to the board why he sacked Mr Horan last week.

"Compared with prior [controversies], I think NZ First is pretty clean this time. We're making sure we're staying clean."

Leader Winston Peter's press release says: "New Zealand First Board confirmed tonight that Brendan Horan, by his own action in notifying the speaker that he be regarded as an independent Member of Parliament, had in doing so, relinquished his membership of the New Zealand First political party." 

Mr Horan has vowed to clear his name and said earlier today more will be revealed in the coming days.

dwilliams@nbr.co.nz

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